France on Thursday stressed the role of international mobilisation in helping to stabilise the situation in Mali and urged support for the UN which has deployed a peacekeeping force there but which has undergone deadly attacks in the past two months.
Soldiers from Chad, Nigeria and Senegal have been killed by attacks in northern Mali at a time when France has handed over control of security in the country to the UN Mission for Stabilisation in Mali (UNMISM).
“The mobilisation of the international community in favour of Mali is essential, “French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said in a briefing.
“It has allowed Mali to move on a path to stabilisation thanks to the determined action of the United Nations Mission for Stabilisation in Mali, which has a robust mandate and the means to act on the ground,” he added.
France intervened in Mali in January 2013 and deployed thousands of troops there to counter attacks by Islamist extremist groups linked with Al-Qaeda and Tuareg rebel groups who were protesting discrimination.
At the height of the conflict, France had over 4,000 troops backed by helicopters and aircraft fighting against the Islamist groups, most of which have been routed from Mali and into Libya.
The UN has been taking over charge of the peace-keeping and France has created a parallel, regional force of around 3,000 troops to separately fight terrorism outside of the UN mandate. Around 1,000 of these troops are remaining in Mali under French command, while others are based in Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania in an operation known as “Barkhane.” France on Thursday welcomed the participation of many African nations in the UN force in Mali.
“We praise the commitment of all the countries who are contributing,” Nadal said.