UN to strengthen Mali peace mission

The UN Security Council on Wednesday decided to strengthen peacekeeping operations in Mali following a spate of attacks targeting blue helmets serving in the UN’s deadliest mission.
The council unanimously backed a French-drafted resolution that provides for 2 500 extra troops and police to be deployed in the mission known as Minusma, along with modern equipment and quick-reaction forces.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre said the measure “provides Minusma with a more robust mandate” with more troops including “highly-specialised European contingents in terms of special forces, in terms of intelligence”.
Germany is set to deploy 650 troops to Mali who will bring aerial drones and transport planes to bolster Minusma.
The vote follows a spate of attacks on UN bases that have killed 27 peacekeepers so far this year, making Minusma the deadliest UN mission in the world.
The resolution authorises peacekeepers to “take all necessary means” to carry out its mandate in support of a struggling peace accord signed a year ago.
Delattre said the mission, which currently has 12 000 police and soldiers, is “confronted with a resilient terrorist threat” from groups aligned with al-Qaeda and jihadists.
But he said France had no immediate plans to strengthen its counter-terrorism Operation Barkhane, which is operating in Mali and the Sahel region and provides backup for UN troops.
Mali has been struggling to turn the page on an Islamist takeover of its northern territory in 2012 that triggered a French military intervention to pull the country back from the brink of collapse.
Deployed in July 2013, the UN peacekeeping mission has become a target for attacks.

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