Four United Nations peacekeepers in Mali were killed and five others wounded in an attack by unidentified armed elements on Wednesday, the UN mission in the country has said.
The peacekeepers’ convoy was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED), and the troops then came under attack by unidentified gunmen in the vast Timbuktu region.
A robust response by the peacekeepers forced the attackers to flee, and the wounded personnel were evacuated by helicopter, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said in a news release on Wednesday. The peacekeepers who lost their lives were from Côte d’Ivoire.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres strongly condemned the attack and called on Malian authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson on Wednesday, the UN chief emphasized that “attacks against UN peacekeepers may constitute a war crime.”
He urged the Malian authorities “to spare no efforts in identifying and promptly bringing to justice the perpetrators of this heinous attack.”
Mr. Guterres also reaffirmed the solidarity of the United Nations with the people and Government of Mali. MINUSMA stands for ‘United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali’. Operation PRESENCE
Mali is one of Canada’s main partners in Africa and within La Francophonie. Canada and Mali established diplomatic relations in 1969 and continue to maintain a strong bilateral relationship over half a century later, with a key foundation being Canada’s development assistance program.
Canada has actively supported international efforts to restore stability in Mali since the 2012 coup d’état and the resulting crisis. This has included political and diplomatic support to help broker a peaceful settlement of the conflict. To that end, Canada works in conjunction with the Government of Mali, the United Nations, and other partners to enable the effective implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, which is also known as the Algiers Accord (in French only). Such efforts are complemented by an increased emphasis on stabilization programming.
With the completion of the ATF’s deployment, Canada is maintaining multiple contributions in support of the UN mission in Mali, including up to 10 Canadian Armed Forces members, civilian police officers and financial support, with the aim of facilitating the implementation of the Algiers Accord. Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs) is leading stabilization programming in Mali and the Sahel. Likeminded partners, the Peacebuilding Fund and the UN consult Canada on stabilization strategies and opportunities in the region. Canada has invested more than $30 million from 2016-2019 and is providing an additional $28 million for the 2019-2022 period in Mali and the Sahel in support of civil society organizations, international non-governmental organizations, Malian authorities and the United Nations. Canada is also providing $9.8 million to the MINUSMA Trust Fund (2016-2020), and supporting the deployment of two gender advisors to the mission.
The attack against MINUSMA peacekeepers took place the same day as another attack on the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (known by its French acronym, MINUSCA), in which a Rwandan peacekeeper was killed.
MINUSMA was established in 2013, after terrorist groups took control of major towns in the country’s north the year before.
Since then, the security situation in Mali – a country roughly the combined size of France, Germany and the UK – has improved owing to efforts of the UN Mission, national security forces and international partners, Canada being one of those partners.
Attacks against civilians and peacekeepers continue, and MINUSMA remains the most dangerous UN operation in the world.
As of December 2020, it suffered 231 fatalities among its civilian and uniformed personnel, of which 134 were the result of malicious acts. An additional 358 personnel sustained serious injuries.
The UN Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 2531 on 29 June 2020, renewing the mandate of MINUSMA for another year