Mali mission adopting "more robust" approach to protect civilians

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Senegalese UNPOL Officers patrol the streets of Gao, Mali. Photo: MINUSMA/Marco Dormino (file photo)

Civilians caught up in fighting in northern Mali "continue to suffer" despite the best efforts of the UN Mission there (MINUSMA) to protect them.

That's according to the UN Peacekeeping chief, Hervé Ladsous, briefing the Security Council on Thursday.

Mr Ladsous said MINUSMA was adopting a "more robust and proactive posture" to protect civilians following a surge in violence between armed groups over the summer.

More than 30 UN troops have been killed in the North African country this year alone.

Matthew Wells reports.

The Malian government has been trying to regain full control of the country since 2012, when extremists briefly took over the north, and fighting broke out involving Tuareg rebels and militia loyal to the government.

The UN has been supporting a peace and stabilization plan but Mr Ladsous said the time had now come, for the signatories to the peace agreement to "rise above" their self-interests, for the good of the "country as a whole".

Despite the heavy toll in death and injuries to UN blue helmets, he said the Mission had done all it could to de-escalate the fighting and work alongside the government.

He spoke through an interpreter.

"In spite of the mission doing its utmost, civilians continue to suffer from the consequences of the armed groups and also from the government's military operations. The ceasefire violations have further hampered access for humanitarian actors that are doing their best to answer the most pressing needs."

Furthermore said the peacekeeping chief, MINUSMA did not have enough equipment or personnel to adequately protect itself or ordinary Malians.

He said two troop-contributing countries planned to withdraw three out of the mission's five helicopter units, and no replacements had been offered.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’10″

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