“The security situation in Mali remains particularly complex, so Lithuania continues its participation in the multinational peacekeeping and training missions here,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis said when meeting with leaderships of the multinational operations in Mali Lithuanian soldiers are deployed to.
Minister met in Mali with Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and United Nations Resident Coordinator Mbaranga Gasarabwe, MINUSMA Commander Major General Jean-Paul Deconinck and EUTM Mali Commander Brigadier General Enrique Millan.
R. Karoblis and the officials discussed the security situation in the region, implementation of tasks and objectives, cooperation with regard to the changing tasks under the mandates of the multinational operations and possible challenges that is developed by the multinational peacekeeping and training initiatives in Mali, and Lithuania’s contribution to the said initiatives.
Minister of National Defence stressed at the meetings that closer coordination of the international community’s actions was needed, as well as closer cooperation between the multinational operations in Mali and their cooperation with the Malian security forces.
Commanders of the multinational operations informed that the political situation remained complicated and the security situation was constantly deteriorating. Threats were growing not only in the northern but also in the central part of the country. Both missions were operating in particularly difficult conditions: expanding geography and increasing intensity of attacks. The attacks on UN peacekeepers and Malian soldiers are more frequently occurring not only in the northern but also in the central part of Mali. UN MINUSMA and EUTM Mali leaderships stressed that with the upcoming presidential elections in Mali due in July the number of attacks on peacekeepers will only grow.
The international community responded to the deterioration in security situation by giving significantly larger resources and attention not only to Mali about the entire Sahel region (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad) since the end of last year.
Lithuania also assigned an additional 34-strong Force Protection Unit since October 2017 to Operation MINUSMA. Currently, 41 Lithuanian soldiers are deployed to Mali. 39 of them serve as part of Operation MINUSMA and it is a record number of Lithuanian troops to serve in the United Nations operations since Lithuania’s joining. Two more Lithuanian soldiers are serving in the European Union Training Mission in Mali, EUTM Mali. In total, the Lithuanian contingent in Mali is the second largest Lithuania’s contribution to multinational operations.
At the meeting R. Karoblis also stressed Lithuania’s commitment to retain Lithuania’s input in the operations.
MINUSMA is a United Nations peacekeeping and stability mission launched in 2013 to assist the Malian Government in implementing political processes and countering security threats, ensuring stability and protection of civilian residents. Its strength to sate is 13 thousand troops from 53 countries.
EUTM Mali is designed to improve operational capacity and activity of the Malian Armed Forces so that it is capable of ensuring territorial integrity of the country and counter attacks of terrorist groups inside the country. The mission trains and advises the Malian military on command and control, logistics, personnel management, international humanitarian law, protection of civilian population and protection of human rights. EUTM Mali also contributes to the implementation of the peace agreement through support to disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration within the country. Its strength is 570 soldiers contributed by 28 countries.