Hit by several attacks on UN camps, Mali on Tuesday called on the international community to provide military material and financial aid from a new joint force being set up by five countries of the Sahel region.
Speaking before the UN Security Council, Mali’s ambassador to the United Nations, Issa Konfourou, said Monday’s attacks in Mali, which left nine dead, and an attack in Burkina Faso on Sunday, in which 18 people were killed, underscored the urgency of setting up the force.
He said progress had been made since the joint force was formally constituted in early July but Mali called “on all friendly countries and partner international organisations to help us to complete the budget.”
The 5 000-strong force is to be made up of troops from Niger, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.
It has an annual budget of about $496m a year but so far only about $127m has been pledged.
A Malian diplomat said equipment was needed for the force’s five battalions. Also required is a communications systems linking them to headquarters and an emergency medical evacuation unit.
Plans call for deploying the first units in October and for the battalions to be operational by March, with priority placed on cross-border military operations.
Speaking at a UN Security Council debate on security in Africa, France’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Anne Gueguen stressed the need for an “urgent response” to armed jihadist groups destabilizing the Sahel region, the semi-arid region in north central Africa that extends from Senegal to Sudan.
“The security situation in the Sahel is directly linked to the situation in Mali,” she said.
Her American counterpart, Michele Sison, insisted that deeper cooperation between the five participating countries could help improve regional security and compliment the work of an existing UN peacekeeping force in Mali.
“Toward that end, the United States will continue its longstanding bilateral support to develop and build the capacity of G5 members’ security forces,” she said.
Konfourou and Niger’s Ambassador Abdallah Wafy said after the Security Council meeting that the United States had not refused to contribute financially to the force – even though unlike the European Union and France it has not announced a pledge of financial support.
They told reporters that Washington intends to participate in international donor conferences later this year to raise funds for the force, the ambassadors said.