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European assistance for Mali

The EU Foreign Ministers agreed on 17 January to set up a European mission to train Mali’s armed forces (EUTM Mali). Its objective is to enhance the army’s military capabilities and so help reestablish the country’s territorial integrity. The training mission is not to become involved in combat situations. At the special session in Brussels, which had been convened at short notice when the situation in Mali escalated, Foreign Minister Westerwelle said the most important thing was to enable the African forces to themselves bring about greater stabilization in Mali.

The EU Foreign Ministers welcomed France’s swift response, supported by other EU member states, to the Malian Government’s request and the assistance it was providing in the fight against terrorist groups. The French Government had decided on 11 January to take this action, after Islamist rebels who were already in control of much of northern Mali advanced further in the direction of the capital, Bamako. The intervention by France and the support of a number of other countries has halted the Islamists’ advance for the time being.

“It was right for France to take action,” Westerwelle said in Brussels. He added, however, that it was also right for the European Union to now launch a training mission independently of that military operation, in order to enable the African forces to fulfil their responsibility for Mali’s stability.

German support

A Bundeswehr Transall aircraft (file photo)

A Bundeswehr Transall aircraft (file photo)
© dpa / picture alliance

Bild vergrößern
A Bundeswehr Transall aircraft (file photo)

A Bundeswehr Transall aircraft (file photo)

A Bundeswehr Transall aircraft (file photo)

Germany too is providing logistical support to help stabilize the situation in Mali. The German Government is making two Transall transport aircraft available to support ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States. Speaking on 16 January, Defence Minister de Maizière said, “We are standing by to bring troops from ECOWAS countries to Mali.” Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle described the support as “necessary and the right thing to do”.

The legal basis for this international intervention is provided by decisions taken the United Nations Security Council. On 20 December 2012, the Council adopted Resolution 2085 (2012) to sanction an African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) and authorize ECOWAS to reestablish Mali’s territorial integrity. The resolution calls on all countries to support these objectives. Resolution 2071 (2012) of 12 October 2012 also sees the Security Council pledge support for the planning of an international military operation as well as calling on regional and international partners to help improve the capabilities of Mali’s army.

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.

Political resolution is fundamental

At the special session, the EU Foreign Ministers emphasized the need for political progress as the foundation of long-term stability in Mali. As recorded in the Council Conclusions, they urged the Malian authorities to adopt and implement a roadmap for the restoration of democracy and constitutional order. They also encouraged the launch of an inclusive national dialogue open to the northern populations.

The German Government has also repeatedly pointed out that it would be impossible to resolve the conflict by military means alone, highlighting the need for political resolution and a return to constitutional order in the interests of lasting peace. On 17 January – having spoken to Mali’s Foreign Minister Coulibaly, who also attended the special session in Brussels – Foreign Minister Westerwelle said that the Malian Government recognized how essential such a political process and a roadmap for transition were.

Widespread suffering

Refugees from northern Mali in Bamako

Refugees from northern Mali in Bamako
© dpa / picture alliance

Bild vergrößern
Refugees from northern Mali in Bamako

Refugees from northern Mali in Bamako

Refugees from northern Mali in Bamako

In view of the difficult humanitarian situation in Mali, the German Government on 16 January pledged an additional one million euros in humanitarian aid.

The money will be made available to Welthungerhilfe to help relieve the suffering of refugees from Mali. “Even given the important strategic and military considerations, we must keep the needs of the people in mind,” Westerwelle said.

The humanitarian situation in Mali has been deteriorating since the Islamist rebels began making advances in the north of the country. According to current estimates by the United Nations, up to 4.2 million people will be dependent on humanitarian aid this year. Around 350,000 people have fled the affected regions, 150,000 of them crossing the border into neighbouring countries.

Since the end of 2011, Germany has pledged a total of 13.65 million euros in humanitarian aid for Mali. This goes to support the activities of organizations including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Food Programme (WFP), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and German NGOs in Mali.


Last updated 17.01.2013