The UN Security Council authorized the deployment of 2,000 additional peacekeepers and almost 500 new police troops to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali on Wednesday in response to the country's volatile security situation.
The strengthening of the mission follows recommendations by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon after more than 70 UN soldiers had been killed in the West African nation in the past three years in attacks by various Islamist groups, including 27 troops last year alone.
Mali fell into turmoil in 2012 when its northern region was overrun by Islamist insurgents. The country's former colonial power France intervened in early 2013, leading to the deployment of UN peacekeepers later that year.
The resolution, which renews the mandate of the peacekeeping mission, increases the mission's military component from the current troop ceiling of 11,240 personnel to 13,289 peacekeepers and also raises the number of police officers from the currently authorized 1,440 to 1,920 personnel.
The text emphasizes that the mission's priority must be to support the implementation of the peace agreement in Mali and protect the security of civilians and UN personnel, especially against threats from armed groups with significantly more deadly weapons.
The resolution, which was drafted by France, allows the mission to adjust to the "unique security environment" it is mandated to operate in, said Francios Delattre, French ambassador to the UN.
David Pressman, a representative of the US, said the mission must take "robust and active steps" when faced with serious security threats.
"It is rational and it is necessary when a mission is deployed in this kind of environment," he said.
The increased troop ceilings will also allow Germany to deploy all of the 650 personnel authorized by its government to join the Mali peacekeeping mission as soon as possible. Some 450 German troops are already on the ground.
Once fully deployed, Germany will become the largest European Union contributor of troops to the mission.
The German deployment will also include surveillance drones to enable the mission to better monitor the movement of armed groups and protect peacekeepers from surprise attacks.
Friday, August 12, 2016 - 21:37