International help for Mali
A Bundeswehr Transall aircraft (file photo)
© dpa / picture alliance
Germany is providing logistical support to help stabilize the situation in Mali. Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière announced on 16 January that the German Government would be making two Transall transport aircraft available to support ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States. “We are standing by,” he said, “to bring troops from ECOWAS countries to Mali.” Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle described the support as “necessary and the right thing to do” and pledged an additional one million euros in German Government humanitarian aid for Mali.
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.
Troops deployed to fight rebels
French troops bound for Mali
© picture alliance / abaca
The French Government intervened in Mali’s conflict on 11 January, in response to a plea from the Government of Mali and in accordance with international law. Islamist groups have gained control over much of the northern part of the country. Tensions were exacerbated when the rebels advanced further, moving towards the capital, Bamako, in early January. The French action, with the support of a number of other countries, has halted the Islamists’ advance for the time being.
The United Nations Security Council – together with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – has unanimously welcomed France’s intervention. 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, thereby supplying a legal basis for Germany’s provision of Transall aircraft.
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.
Refugees from northern Mali in Bamako
© dpa / picture alliance
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.
Fundamental: the political process
Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Alassande Ouattara
Foreign Minister Westerwelle has repeatedly pointed out that it would be impossible to resolve the conflict by military means alone. Speaking on 13 January, he explained that “a durable settlement of the Mali conflict 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”.
Both the Security Council and the European Union also see the start of political dialogue and a roadmap for political transition as important preconditions. The EU Foreign Ministers on 10 December 2012 approved a Crisis Management Concept which, if preconditions are met, will see an EU training mission deployed to Mali.
The EU Foreign Ministers will discuss how to proceed in Mali at a special session in Brussels on 17 January.
Last updated 16.01.2013