Foreign Minister Gabriel travels to Mali: working to bring stabilisation
Mali is a pivotal country for peace and stability in the Sahel region. With his trip, Foreign Minister Gabriel wants to show why the Bundeswehr engagement in Mali is now more important than ever.
Enlarge image Securing stability: a Bundeswehr soldier in Gao (© dpa) Foreign Minister Gabriel will visit Mali on Friday, April 14 together with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault. For years now, the huge desert state in western Africa has been troubled by terrorist attacks and attacks by Islamist militia. German and French soldiers are deployed on UN and EU missions in Mali. After all, were the situation in the country to deteriorate, it would have devastating consequences for the entire Sahel region - and in the medium term, also a major impact on Europe.
Visiting troops in the dangerous northern area
Gabriel and Ayrault will not just have talks with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in the capital Bamako but will also travel to the dangerous area in the north of the country. In Gao, on the fringes of the Sahara, 800 Bundeswehr soldiers are deployed. Working as peacekeepers in the UN MINUSMA mission, they are securing an area previously controlled by Islamist rebels. All in all, more than 10,000 peacekeepers are deployed in the country. The UN mission aims to monitor compliance with the peace agreement which the Government signed with some rebels in 2015.
MINUSMA is considered one of the most dangerous UN missions in the world. Just on Wednesday, a French soldier lost his life in an Islamist attack. Gabriel and Ayrault will pay their respects in Gao.
Consequences for Germany and Europe
Peace and stability in Mali are not just important for the people in the Sahel region. Also for Germany and Europe, the country's development has far-reaching consequences. After all, Mali is a transit country for many refugees. Terrorism and violent conflict destroy the people's hope for the future and cause economic misery, meaning that migration to Europe seems for many to be the only way out. Development, stability and security, by contrast, give the population a brighter outlook if they stay.
Enlarge image The mission: German UN peacekeepers in Mali (© photothek.net) Stability through training and reconciliation
In Mali, Germany is following a broad-based strategy to bring long-term stability to the country. In Bamako, Gabriel and Ayrault are to visit a police college. In a European Union mission, police trainers from Germany are working to improve the training provided for Malian security forces.
With 140 Bundeswehr soldiers in the European Union mission EUTM, Germany is working to train the Malian armed forces. Since 2013, EUTM has trained more than 9000 Malian soldiers to ensure the country can in the future again assume responsibility for its own security. The curriculum includes not only classical military training, but also international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) and human rights. So that the training has a long-term impact, the Mission is increasingly concentrating on “training the trainers”. Furthermore, the German Foreign Office consults with and assists the Malian Ministry of Reconciliation, among others, and supports projects which improve the population’s living conditions.