Saturday, January 19, 2013

African Union Sets Donor Meeting on Mali Force

AU sets donours meeting on Mali force

Saturday, 19 January 2013

ADDIS ABABA/ GENEVA — The African Union said on Thursday it will hold a donours conference on 29 January to garner funds and support for the Malian army and for the African force being deployed to help Mali fight off Islamist insurgents.

A meeting of the African Union and the West African regional bloc Ecowas “agreed that the donors’ conference . . . would be held in Addis Ababa on 29 January following the conclusion of the AU summit”, the pan-African body said in a statement.

The UN Security Council last month approved sending an African-led military force to help re-conquer the north of Mali from Islamist militants.

The UN resolution gave the African-led force an initial one-year mandate to use “all necessary measures” to help Mali’s government take back territory seized in the wake of a coup last March from “terrorist, extremist and armed groups”.

While the Economic Community of West African States has been mobilising troops from regional countries, the AU Commission will lead the mobilisation of contingents from elsewhere on the continent, the statement said.

Nigeria will command the force and has pledged 900 troops but has so far failed to meet its deadline for getting them on the ground in Mali.

Other west African states that have pledged troops are: Benin, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Togo. Burundi has offered to contribute troops to the force, which is known by the acronym AFISMA — the African-led International Support Mission in Mali.

Al-Qaeda linked groups and other Islamists that have taken over parts of northern Mali have imposed a brutal form of sharia law.

Meanwhile, up to 700 000 people are expected to be uprooted by the violence in Mali, including 400 000 who could flee to neighbouring countries in the coming months, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday. French, Malian and African forces are confronting an Islamist rebel alliance that includes al-Qaeda's North African wing in a military operation that began last week.

“We believe there could be in the near future an additional 300,000 displaced inside Mali and up to 400 000 additional displaced (refugees) in neighbouring countries,” UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told a news briefing in Geneva.

— Sapa/Reuters.

1 comment:

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