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International assistance for Mali – an overview

The international community is continuing to assist Mali at various levels after the return to constitutional order following the presidential elections in August 2013 and the parliamentary elections at the end of 2013. The focus is on the political process.

The German Government also considers a political solution central to the country’s long-term stability and national reconciliation. The Federal Foreign Office is thus assisting the new Ministry for Reconciliation and Development of the North by providing advisory services and equipment for local reconciliation meetings in every community in northern Mali.

Germany has pledged Mali around 100 million euros for 2013 and 2014 for development cooperation in the priority areas agriculture, drinking water/sewerage disposal and decentralisation.

Multifaceted international support

International support for Mali is currently being mobilised at various different levels. French troops have been in Mali as part of a combat operation since 11 January 2013. With their assistance, most major towns in the north, previously controlled by Islamist groups, have now been liberated. They continue to fight against terrorist groups. January 2013 also saw the start of the African-led Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA). As of 1 July 2013, their tasks were taken on by the UN mission MINUSMA, the establishment of which was decided by the UN Security Council on 25 April 2013. MINUSMA is to make an extensive contribution towards bringing stability to Mali.

Fighting between Government troops and Tuareg rebels broke out in the north of Mali 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. They advanced southward at the beginning of 2013, prompting France to respond to the Malian Government’s request for intervention.

EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel

German soldiers providing training for soldiers in Mali

German soldiers providing training for soldiers in Mali
© picture alliance / dpa

Bild vergrößern
German soldiers providing training for soldiers in Mali

German soldiers providing training for soldiers in Mali

German soldiers providing training for soldiers in Mali

Mali’s problems are partly also the problems of its neighbouring countries: borders which are difficult to control, drug, arms and human trafficking, organised crime, high youth unemployment as well as susceptibility to food shortages due to climate change.

The European Union therefore drew up a Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel back in 2011. It mainly focuses on Mali, Mauritania and the Niger, and since recently also on Chad and Burkina Faso. The core aspect is an integrated approach comprising security and development. It has a total volume of around 606 million euros (country programmes, stability instrument and the 10th European Development Fund) First and foremost, existing national programmes should be further developed by, for example, providing partial funding or seconding experts to provide assistance. The aims of the strategy are: improving political stability, security and good governance as well as creating conditions conducive to sustainable development. Crucial here is the ongoing cooperation with the African Union and the regional organisation ECOWAS. The aims are to be reached through four fields of action: 1. development, good governance and internal conflict settlement; 2. political and diplomatic approaches; 3. security and the rule of law; 4. measures to prevent and combat extremism and radicalisation.

One of the purposes of the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel of 2013 is to fund major infrastructure projects in the region with a newly created donor platform. Until the end of January, the former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi was the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sahel. His tasks were taken over by Saïd Djinnit, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNOWA (seat: Dakar). In 2014-2015, Mali is chairing a platform intended to coordinate the various international Sahel strategies (also those of the AU, ECOWAS and the World Bank).

EU Training Mission: EUTM Mali

The European Union is also helping to enable Mali to once more guarantee security throughout the country on its own. EUTM Mali, the training mission which EU Foreign Ministers had agreed on at their council in Brussels on 18 February, officially began operations on 2 April 2013. The EUTM Mali mandate includes advising the Malian armed forces and providing training for soldiers. The mission’s members do not participate in combat missions. The mandate is to be extended for two years until 2016. The EU is also planning to set up a civilian CSDP mission. The internal security sector is to be strengthened by training and advising the police, gendarmerie and national guard.

The maximum number of German troops participating in EUTM Mali at any one time was increased from 180 to 250 soldiers in the Bundestag mandate of 20 February 2014. Germany’s involvement in the mission concentrates mainly on training army engineers and providing medical support. Furthermore, Germany has provided the UN mission MINUSMA with two Transall transport aircraft, senior officers as well as police officers – a total of 80 persons.

Bundeswehr mission in Mali expanded

Humanitarian assistance

At the same time, Germany is also engaged in humanitarian relief efforts to improve conditions for people in Mali as well as the many refugees.

Germany contributes 12.3 million US dollars per year, making it one of the biggest bilateral donors of humanitarian assistance for Mali.  German assistance in Mali focuses on two areas:

  • Food aid via the World Food Programme, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe as well as smaller NGOs such as ADRA Adventist Development and Relief Agency (distribution of seed). 
  • Improvement in the returnee situation in northern Mali, usually via NGOs (ADRA, Help e.V., Plan International, Caritas Germany) with a view to bringing about improvements in the water supply/hygiene/sanitation as well as non-food items, travel assistance, training in income generation, food security. 

Children in Mali

Children in Mali
© dpa / picture alliance

Bild vergrößern
Children in Mali

Children in Mali

Children in Mali

The Sahel will remain the focus of German humanitarian assistance. Furrther improvement of the returnee situation is of key importance to us.

Germany has also taken steps to assist its Malian partners in their efforts to combat the problem of landmines. For instance, the German Ambassador in Bamako has handed over more than 100,000 euros’ worth of body armour and mine detectors to the Ministry of Internal Security and Civil Protection.

Security Council resolutions

The legal basis for this international intervention is provided by decisions taken by the United Nations Security Council. On 20 December 2012, the Council adopted Resolution 2085 (2012) to sanction AFISMA and authorise ECOWAS to re-establish 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.


Last updated 14.03.2014