The United Nations wants to send 40 military observers to Mali to monitor ceasefires agreed between an alliance of Tuareg-led rebels and the Malian government, and urged the U.N. Security Council to consider blacklisting people who violate the deal.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended in a report, made public on Tuesday, that the council authorize the observers when it renews the mandate for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, later this month.
“To reinforce this effort, the Security Council may wish to consider the introduction of sanctions against the perpetrators of ceasefire violations,” Ban wrote in the report.
The Tuareg-led rebels and the Malian government signed a peace deal on Saturday meant to draw a line under a 2012 uprising and allow the authorities to focus on tackling Islamist militants in the desert north.
Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told the Security Council on Tuesday that the government needed to know more about the plan for ceasefire observers, adding that “greater clarity would enable us to move forward.”
Tit-for-tat violence between rival armed groups has until now distracted Mali from fighting Islamist militants who briefly teamed up with Tuareg rebels to seize the north in 2012. A French military operation scattered their forces a year later.
The U.N. envoy to Mali, Mongi Hamdi, told the Security Council that northern Mali was one of the most difficult environments for peacekeeping given its size, harsh climate and non-existent infrastructure.
“To compound the situation, violent extremists and other enemies of peace continue to indiscriminately attack our forces and camps,” Hamdi said.
“It is therefore critical that troop- and police-contributing countries have the capacities and capabilities required to operate safely and effectively in such an environment,” he said.
The U.N. force commander, Danish Major General Michael Lollesgaard, told the Security Council last week that his troops were not equipped to fight a guerrilla war that has killed dozens of peacekeepers, making it the deadliest U.N. mission.
France vowed on Monday to strengthen cooperation with the U.N. mission in Mali. Hamdi said he had also met with delegations from Britain, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands about what support the peacekeeping operation needed.