UN chief wants Mali peacekeeping force increased by 2 500


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked the Security Council to add just over 2,500 peacekeepers to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, which has been hit by a series of deadly attacks, according to a new UN report.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility on Wednesday for an attack a day earlier on two UN sites in northern Mali where a peacekeeper from China and three civilians were killed and over a dozen others wounded.

Ban’s report to the 15-nation Security Council, issued on Tuesday and seen by Reuters on Wednesday, calls for increasing the maximum number of UN soldiers in Mali by 2 049 personnel, which would raise the force’s authorised strength to 13 289.

The report said the additional troops should bring capabilities such as intelligence gathering and surveillance, explosive disposal and protecting supply convoys.

Ban also called for adding 480 UN police, which would raise the ceiling for police in the U.N. mission, known as MINUSMA, to 1 920 personnel.

This would enable MINUSMA police to boost training and advisory capacities while “supporting the establishment of transnational organised crime and counterterrorism units in Gao, Mopti and Timbuktu,” Ban’s report said.
“It remains critical that MINUSMA urgently address outstanding gaps in force requirements, enhance its capabilities, including intelligence and use of technologies and continue to adjust its posture to be responsive to the deteriorating security situation,” Ban said.

The Security Council is scheduled to extend the MINUSMA mandate later this month. French Ambassador Francois Delattre, council president this month, told reporters France was studying Ban’s proposals.

Within the MINUSMA police, Ban called for the establishment of a “special intervention team” in the country’s capital Bamako, and the addition of water police capabilities to protect civilians and help Malian security forces combat transnational organised crime on the Niger River.

Ban said in a statement on Wednesday that recent attacks have killed 12 peacekeepers in Mali.

The Security Council visited Mali in March to push implementation of a fragile peace deal aimed at ending a cycle of internal uprisings and allowing the government to combat the growing threat of Islamist militants.

French forces intervened in 2013 to drive back Islamist fighters that hijacked the Tuareg uprising to seize Mali’s desert north in 2012.

A UN peacekeeping mission was then deployed. But the militants have since reorganised and launched a wave of attacks against security forces, peacekeepers and civilian targets and have threatened neighbouring countries.