Germany said on Wednesday it had agreed to increase its contingent in the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA in Mali to a maximum of 1,400 troops from 1,100 previously to help fill gaps left by a French withdrawal.
“The upper limit has been increased by 300. This is intended to compensate for the capabilities previously taken by French forces,” said government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann, who added that Mali’s mandate had been extended until September. May 31, 2023.
The announcement comes as France is withdrawing its forces from Mali, which is separated from MINUSMA after severing relations with the country’s ruling junta.
These forces, which are part of the French anti-jihadist Barkhane mission in the Sahel, have also played an important role in supporting UN troops in the country, particularly with air power.
Following the French decision, Germany is considering its deployment in Mali.
Along with expanding his participation in MINUSMA, he said he was reducing his training mission under the EU deployment of EUTM to a “minimal presence” as the bloc put the mission on ice.
The upper limit of its EUTM deployment would be halved from 600 to 300, with the majority of forces stationed in neighboring Niger, where the Gazelle training mission continues.
A poor country of 21 million people, Mali has been ravaged over the past decade by Islamist violence. Whole sections of the country are under the control of a myriad of rebel groups and militias.
Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.
Mali’s under-equipped army has also been often accused of committing abuses during the brutal conflict.
France, a former colony of Mali, sent troops in 2013 to help quell a revolt fueled by jihadists in the north of the country.
The rebels were scattered but regrouped to lead a bloody insurgency in the center of the country which then spread to Niger and Burkina Faso.
The Barkhane force is ending its operations in Mali after relations broke down following the ousting of elected leader Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020.
A major factor in the collapse was the arrival of Russian agents, described by the Malian junta as military instructors but by France as mercenaries.