Canada aims to deploy peacekeepers in Mali by August: Sajjan
OTTAWA – The Canadian military is aiming to have peacekeepers on the ground in Mali by August, according to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
On March 19 the federal government announced its intention to send peacekeeping troops and an aviation task force to the UN mission in Mali for a year-long deployment.
"We're looking at right now this summer, we’re aiming for August," Sajjan told host Evan Solomon in an interview on CTV's Question Period airing Sunday. "The goal is to actually have the rotation in place, around that time."
Canada is deploying two Chinook helicopters to provide transport and logistics, and four Griffon helicopters to offer escort and protection services.
Other specific details, including the number of troops that will be deployed, and the rules of engagement, are yet to be announced.
Sajjan said Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance is currently doing "more detailed planning" and "analysis" to know specifically what will be needed.
"We have to be able to determine what type of planning figure we need to move forward on," Sajjan said. "Exactly where they’re going to be based and what’s actually needed there, that determination… all those things will have to be taken into account."
Sajjan also acknowledged that Mali “has become a very dangerous mission,” but assured Canadian troops will be ready for it.
According to the United Nations, there have been 162 multinational peacekeeper fatalities since the mission began in 2013.