By Heba Girgis
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
BAMAKO, Mali—European Union foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss the situation in Mali. The group has officially decided to launch a mission to train the military in the African country of Mali. This decision was made today.
This mission is designed to help the government of Mali take back and maintain control of the country. The first people in the mission, about 70 individuals, have already been sent to Mali so that they could begin the training as advisors to the Malian military. Officials of the European Union noted that more military instructors will be deployed before the end of March and official training will begin in April of this year.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton noted that the mission “is going to be of enormous importance in support of the Malian army” which is currently a poorly equipped and trained force without the ability or capacity to maintain the country’s territorial integrity. About half of the troops will be military trainers, while the rest will serve by providing protection and administrative as well as medical backup.
The current 27 European Union nations first approved the idea of a training mission in December 2012 in order to boost the Malian army’s ability to fight Islamist rebels who seized control of the country’s northern region last year. But the actual launch of the training mission was quickly accelerated after France’s surprise intervention in its former colony on January 11, in order to stop the insurgents from continuing south toward the capital.
Approximately 16 countries from the European Union along with Norway have agreed to take part in this mission. The mission currently has a 12.3 million-euro budget, and each contributing nation is providing and financing its own troops.
Specifically, the mission will provide advice and military training to the Malian Armed Forces. This training will include on command control, logistics and human resources as well as training on international humanitarian law, the protection of civilians and protection of human rights. The mission, however, will not be directly involved in combat operations. The mission has an initial mandate of 15 months and will involve about 500 staff. The headquarters will be in Mali’s capital city of Bamako while training will take place in Koulikoro.
For further information, please see:
Global Post – EU Approves Military Mission to Mali – 18 February 2013
The Miami Herald – EU Launches Military Training Mission in Mali – 18 February 2013
New Europe – EU Send Training Mission to Mali – 18 February 2013
The Washington Post – EU Foreign Ministers Officially Launch Mission to Train the Military in Mali – 18 February 2013