Chinese peacekeepers arrive in Mali in historic deployment

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One hundred and thirty-five Chinese peacekeepers arrived in Mali’s capital Bamako last week in China’s first deployment of forces for a peacekeeping mission.

The personnel complement that arrived last Tuesday includes 35 engineers, 65 medical staff and 35 soldiers. They are the first of 395 personnel that China is sending to Mali at the United Nation’s request and will provide security, healthcare and engineering services as part of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (Minusma) for a period of eight months.

Although China has contributed 25 000 personnel to ten United Nations peacekeeping operations since 1990, the Mali deployment marks the first time that China is deploying security forces.

According to China’s defence ministry, the soldiers will primarily guard the Minusma headquarters and peacekeeping camps.
“The Chinese peacekeepers will abide by UN peacekeeping regulations and play a constructive role in safeguarding peace and stability in Mali and the region as a whole,” said Yang Yujun, a spokesman for the ministry.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said he was happy to see China contributing to the peacekeeping mission in Mali. “Besides the engineering and medical crews, the troops to Mali also include security forces. This is also a big step for China in the UN’s peacekeeping mission,” he said.

China established its 395-strong peacekeeping force to Mali on July 12. The members are from the Shenyang Military Area Command and the 211 Hospital of the People’s Liberation Army, reported Xinhua.

The force’s remaining servicemen will be deployed early next year.