Participation in the UN-led stabilization mission in Mali (Minusma) is considered to be the most dangerous foreign deployment of the Bundeswehr.
German soldiers have been stationed in the West African crisis state for around eight years. As part of the UN Minusma mission, the Bundeswehr takes on, among other things, reconnaissance tasks. As part of the EU training mission EUTM, she trains local soldiers with up to 600 people in Mali.
It was only in May that the Bundestag extended both mandates. This means that up to 1,100 Bundeswehr soldiers can continue to participate in Minusma. The majority of the German contingent is stationed in the northeast of the country at Camp Castor in Gao. Around 180 kilometers northeast of Gao, 15 soldiers were apparently injured in a suicide attack on Friday, nine of them seriously.
Germany is also providing staff for the headquarters of the Minusma mission in Bamako and for a logistics unit at the airport in the Malian capital. German blue helmet soldiers are also stationed in neighboring Niger. In the capital Niamey, the Bundeswehr operates an air transport base for the transport of materials and personnel as well as for the care of the wounded.
Dozens of countries with a total of around 13,000 soldiers – including currently around 900 from Germany – and 1,700 police officers are participating in the Minusma blue helmet mission. The operation is based on UN Resolution 2100, passed in April 2013. Previously, French armed forces intervened in the fight against radical Islamists and rebels in northern Mali after the country fell into chaos in the wake of a coup in March 2012.
In June 2013, the Bundestag decided to involve armed German soldiers in Minusma. At the beginning of 2016, it was decided to expand the German involvement. The core task of the UN mission is to monitor a ceasefire between the Malian parties to the conflict. In addition, the mission is intended to contribute to the security, stabilization and protection of the population.
The main tasks of the German blue helmet soldiers in Mali are reconnaissance, observation and participation in the overall picture of the situation. In addition, management and advisory activities as well as air transport and refueling are among the tasks of the troops.
The political situation in Mali has been characterized by increasing instability since 2012. Most of the Islamist-motivated violence has also reached neighboring countries in the Sahel zone in recent years. Thousands of soldiers and civilians were killed in the crisis region, and hundreds of thousands had to flee their homes. The situation in the country is considered “worrying” by observers.
Jihadists and regional militias have recently also increasingly attacked international troops. They take advantage of a lack of state presence. It is feared that they will spread further in unlawful areas – especially after the state was overthrown for the second time within a year in May.
bfi / mkü