Mali Security Update (18 February 2013)February 18, 2013 in Mali
Foreign ministers from the European Union (EU) on Monday formally approved the launch of a EU military mission that will be composed of 500 troops and which will be tasked with training the Malian army. The mission has already begun work on the ground as a group comprising of seventy EU military personnel arrived in Mali ten days ago. Today’s approval of the launch was the final stage in setting up the European Union Training Mission (EUTM), which has a fifteen-month mandate to train Mali’s military.
EU foreign policy chief has indicated that the mission “is going to be of enormous importance in support of the Malian army.” In December 2012, twenty-seven EU nations first approved the the notion of a training mission in order to boost the army’s abilities to fight Islamist rebels in the northern regions of the country. However the launch of the programme was accelerated after France’s unilateral military intervention which they surprisingly launched on January 11 in order to prevent insurgents from moving further south and threatening the capital city. A total of sixteen EU countries have agreed to take part in the EUTM mission, which will have a €12.3 million (£10 million) with each contributing nation financing its own troops. Half of the troops deployed to Mali will provide training while the other half are set to provide protection as well as administrative and medical backup.
Meanwhile any foreigners remaining in Mali should either leave the country immediately or remain in the capital city of Bamako. MS Risk advices those in the country to avoid all travel to the previously occupied towns, including Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu as well as the northern mountainous regions and the town of Tessalit. With last week’s suicide bombing in Gao, it is highly likely that any Islamist rebels remaining in their previous strongholds will use such methods of attack in order to destabilise the security situation throughout the country. Suicide bombings may therefore occur at any place and at any time. There is also a heightened risk of kidnapping which will likely target foreigners, especially French nationals, and which may occur at sites owned by foreign companies. All companies in Mali should have a heightened level of security measure as they maybe targeted by al-Qaeda linked rebels.