Canada to send peacekeeping troops to Mali: sources
Published Friday, March 16, 2018 8:09PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 16, 2018 10:19PM EDT
The Canadian Armed Forces will be sending peacekeeping troops to Mali.
According to military sources, an official announcement on the deployment to the troubled West African country will be made Monday. The deployment is apparently a direct response to a United Nations request for peacekeepers.
Mali has been plagued by an Islamist insurgency since 2012, leading to an untold number of deaths and displacements, especially in the country’s north.
Mali has also proven to be particularly dangerous for UN peacekeepers and foreigners. In November, an attack by jihadists resulted in the deaths of three UN peacekeepers in the country. That followed an August attack on a UN base that led to seven deaths. Five more people were killed in a brazen attack in June on a popular resort in the country’s capital, Bamako.
According to the United Nations, its multinational peacekeeping force has suffered 155 fatalities since its mission began in 2013.
Military sources say that the deployment will be centred on a helicopter task force with about 250 troops that will be sent out before the end of the year. The mission is believed to be a one-year commitment. There will also be a focus on boosting the number of female peacekeepers, fulfilling an earlier Trudeau promise, according to a senior government source.
The CAF has been operating in neighbouring Niger since 2013, training local security forces to better combat terrorism. Canada has also been providing regular airlift support since 2016 to French counter-terrorism forces in Africa’s Sahel region, which encompasses Mali.
The Liberal government has long been considering deploying peacekeepers to Africa. In November, the Trudeau government announced a commitment to providing the UN with six helicopters, two transport aircraft, pilots and support crew, and a 200-strong quick reaction force during a peacekeeping summit in Vancouver. In terms of troop numbers, Canada is currently at a historic low for participation in peacekeeping missions.
With files from CTV News’ Mercedes Stephenson, The Canadian Press and The Associated Press