United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Mali on Tuesday to show support for UN peacekeepers facing an Islamist insurgency that has killed scores of their colleagues.
Guterres went to the UN’s MINUSMA base for ceremonies marking the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.
“Today in these four countries, and especially here in Mali, you work in an environment where peace is not assured, you work in a setting where there are terrorist groups that do not respect anything and nobody, a setting where there is drug, human and arms trafficking,” he said.
MINUSMA has 12,500 military and police personnel. It has lost more than 160 people since it deployed in 2013 – a figure that accounts for more than half of UN peacekeeping fatalities over this period.
“The international community must understand that it must provide the G5 Sahel countries with support, assured and guaranteed support to enable the stability of the G5 Sahel force and the effectiveness of its work for peace and security in this region,” Guterres added.
Northern Mali fell into the grip of al-Qaeda-linked jihadists in 2012.
MINUSMA was deployed to help stabilise the area but attacks have spilled over to the central and southern parts of the country and into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.Follow @muisyo_