United Nations, Nov 24 (PTI) A utility helicopter unit from India will be deployed with the UN mission in Mali, providing "much-needed support" to the peacekeeping forces, amid recent announcements by multiple nations that they will withdraw troops from the mission.
"More broadly, we continue to discuss with Member States the deployment of new assets and plans to fill longer-standing gaps in addition to those resulting from recent announcements,” Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, Farhan Haq, told reporters at the daily press briefing on Wednesday.
"We have three extra helicopter units that are planned to deploy around March next year: two armed helicopters units from Pakistan and Bangladesh and a utility helicopter unit from India. These provide much-needed support to our forces and are critical for early warning and rapid response to protect civilians,” Haq added.
France withdrew its troops from the mission, followed by Egypt. In recent weeks, Britain and Ivory Coast have announced they are withdrawing their troops from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which was set up in 2013 and currently has 12,371 military and 1,731 police personnel deployed with the mission.
India currently does not have troops deployed with the UN mission in Mali.
The country is facing particular security challenges from Islamist insurgents. This week, a peacemaking convoy hit an improvised explosive device (IED) close to Douentza town in the Mopti region. The MINUSMA convoy was travelling to Timbuktu. Three peacekeepers were injured and they are receiving medical assistance. The UN had condemned the attack and wished the peacekeepers a speedy recovery.
Haq said that the UN has taken note of the announcement by the German Government to extend their deployment to Mali until the elections with a view to complete withdrawal by May 2024, subject to Bundestag federal parliament approval.
Haq added that discussions about potential additional contributions from other Troop Contributing Countries are ongoing, including in relation to pledges made during the Seoul Ministerial meeting last December.
The UN had noted announcements of withdrawal of nations from MINUSMA and some speculation about withdrawals in recent days.
"For some of the countries, this is something that has been discussed for a while, and the date of deployments was already planned. For others, it's clear, of course, that Mali has very particular security challenges,” Haq had said.
Haq said the UN appreciates the sacrifices people have made, because so many peacekeepers have lost their lives. "So, we're sympathetic to their concerns. The Mission is assessing the impact of withdrawals and planned withdrawals on our operations, and we're already in discussion with a number of countries in order to fill in any gaps,” Haq had said earlier this week. PTI YAS ZH ZH