International assistance for Mali

France and a number of African states have helped to stop the advance of Islamist groups in Mali. Speaking on 13 January, Foreign Minister Westerwelle said that it was right for France to have responded to the Malian Government’s call for help. He emphasized that there was no question of German combat troops being deployed. However, the German Government is considering how it can support France without involvement in military action.

Speaking on the telephone to his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, on 14 January, Foreign Minister Westerwelle conveyed the German Government’s offer to examine together with the French Government how Germany – which will not be sending combat troops – can support the French mission in political, logistical, medical and humanitarian terms. The Ministers agreed that the two Governments should liaise closely on this.

The French Government intervened in the conflict on 11 January, in response to a plea from the Government of Mali and in accordance with international law. Several African states also took part in the move. Previously, Islamist groups already in control of large parts of northern Malihad advanced as far as Konna, a town around 700 kilometres to the north-east of the capital, Bamako.

In an emergency session held on 10 January, the United Nations Security Council noted that the worsening situation was a threat to Mali’s stability and to international peace and security. This was after the Council adopted Resolution 2085 (2012) on 20 December 2012, which authorizes an African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).

The West African state of Mali has been beset by severe crisis since early 2012. Fighting between Government troops and Tuareg rebels broke out in the north of the country in January 2012. The situation was then exacerbated by a coup in March 2012, in which sections of the military overthrew President Touré. Islamist groups managed to gain control of large parts of northern Mali during the coup and the related unrest.

A roadmap for transition is indispensable

Foreign Minister Westerwelle declared on 13 January that Germanywholehearted supported African efforts to mediate a political process. “For a durable settlement of the Maliconflict,” he said, “can only be achieved through a political solution under which constitutional order is restored throughout Mali and the justified concerns of the North are addressed.”

Refugees from northern Mali in Bamako

Refugees from northern Mali in Bamako
© dpa / picture alliance

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Refugees from northern Mali in Bamako

Refugees from northern Mali in Bamako

Refugees from northern Mali in Bamako

In its statement issued on 10 January, the Security Council also reiterated its call for the various forces in Mali to produce a roadmap for political transition and the restoration of constitutional order.

A roadmap which covers the whole of Mali is also seen as a precondition of European Union support in the form of training for Mali’s armed forces. The EU Foreign Ministers on 10 December 2012 approved a Crisis Management Concept to serve as the basis for an EU training mission for Mali. Minister Westerwelle announced on 13 January that the planning process for this training mission was underway. Westerwelle advocates a swift decision on the part of the EU Foreign Ministers about how to proceed, perhaps in the context of a special session.

According to United Nations estimates, more than 410,000 people have had to leave northern Mali so far, fleeing a conflict which is reported to be affecting around 5 million people.

Last updated 14.01.2013

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