October 11, 2019. We at International United Nations Watch condemn Sunday’s attack on UN peacekeepers in northern Mali. One blue helmet from Chad was killed and four wounded as their vehicle encountered an explosive device during a patrol in the vicinity of the Aguelhok village in the Kidak region. Earlier the same day, an unidentified group attacked a UN MINUSMA base in the central Mali region of Mopti, leaving one peacekeeper from Togo seriously injured. Mahamat Saleh, chief of MINUSMA, condemned the “recent resurgence of this type of attack,” specifically in central Mali.
The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali is high-risk with the most recent attacks reflecting an escalation in attacks against blue helmets, roughly 15,000 of whom are stationed in the country. In January 2019, militants attacked a MINUSMA base, killing 10 Chadian peacekeepers and injuring 25. In February 2019, 191 MINUSMA trooped were killed in hit-and-run attacks and bombings. In addition, as conflict has increasingly moved to central Mali, the Malian army saw 38 soldiers killed in an attack against two of their army bases.
The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was established in 2013 in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2100. The Mission was part of stabilization efforts after the Tuareg rebellion in 2012, in which armed conflict broke out in northern Mali between rebels and the government. This led to insurgencies by nomad Tuaregs, some of whom had participated in the Libyan civil war of 2011, which brought in heavy weaponry, leaving the Malian army ill-equipped to match the strengths of rebel forces. The human costs saw 200,000 people displaced in 2012 with adverse effects on food shortages, including a looting of the UN World Food Programme. The UN Security Council Resolution 2164 in June 2014, gave MINUSMA the responsibilities to protect civilians and protect human rights, and to support political dialogue and reconciliation, as well as assisting the reestablishment of Mali’s State authority and rebuilding the security sector.
The International United Nations Watch strongly condemns the attack on the Chadian peacekeeper, which we see as part of a recent series of armed assaults on peacekeeping personnel in Mali. The international role of the MINUSMA, particularly with regard to ensuring security for civilians, represent efforts by the international community, and any targeting of MINUSMA forces is counterproductive to the process of reconciliation and restabilization of the region.