Mali: UN condemns second ‘cowardly’ attack in three days against peacekeepers
Two Egyptian peacekeepers serving with the UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, were killed on Friday - the second fatal attack this week on a peacekeeping convoy in the West African country.
The blue helmets were killed, and another injured, when their Armoured Personnel Carrier hit an improvised explosive device outside the town of Douentza, located in the Mopti region in central Mali.
In what is yet again another cowardly attack against our peacekeepers, 2 brave Blue helmets from Egypt lost their lives today while #ServingForPeace with @UN_MINUSMA. These crimes are a blatant violation of international humanitarian law & shall not go unpunished. @EgyptPRNewYorkLacroix_UN
UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, said the incident also marked the sixth time a Mission convoy has been hit since 22 May.
A ‘very hard week’
“The Secretary-General condemns this new attack on our peacekeepers, who, as you know, are just fulfilling the mandate in Mali given to them by the Security Council in extremely challenging conditions,” he told journalists in New York.
The UN chief also wished a prompt recovery to the injured peacekeepers.
In a written statement issued later in the day on Friday, Mr. Dujarric said the Secretary-General recalled that attacks targeting United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law. The UN chief also called on the transitional authorities in Mali to “spare no effort in identifying the perpetrators of this attack, so that they can be brought to justice swiftly.”
El-Ghassim Wane, head of MINUSMA, took to Twitter to condemn “this new attack by extremist elements.”
In another post, he wrote that this has been “a hard, very hard week for us.”
‘Another cowardly attack’
On Wednesday, a MINUSMA logistics convoy in Kidal, northern Mali, came under direct fire from suspected members of a terrorist group for roughly an hour.
Four peacekeepers from Jordan were injured, one of whom died from his wounds after being evacuated.
The head of UN Peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, also tweeted his condemnation for what he called “yet again another cowardly attack against our peacekeepers”.
Mr. Lacroix said “these crimes are a blatant violation of international law,” adding that they “shall not go unpunished.”
Also strongly condemning the attack and echoing the words of the UN peacekeeping chief, the members of the UN Security Council, called on the transitional Government of Mali to swiftly investigate the attack against peacekeepers and bring the perpetrators to justice, and keep the relevant troop-contributing country informed of the progress.
In a press statement, the Council members underlined that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law. They went on to stress that involvement in planning, directing, sponsoring or conducting attacks against MINUSMA peacekeepers constitutes a basis for sanctions designations pursuant to Security Council resolutions.
Commitment to serve
Mali continues to be among the most dangerous places to serve as a peacekeeper.
MINUSMA - the French acronym for the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali – was established in April 2013 in the wake of a military coup and the occupation of the north by radical Islamists.
The Mission supports political processes and carries out numerous tasks related to security and protection of civilians.
Despite the challenging circumstances, MINUSMA personnel continue their mandated work, the UN Spokesperson said.
Mr. Dujarric reported that the Mission recently helped to rehabilitate two bridges in the Mopti region which had been destroyed in earlier attacks.
The development will bring relief to the population, and will also facilitate the resumption of travel, commerce and other economic activity, including between Mopti city and the town of Bandiagara, some 65 kilometres to the southeast.
Meanwhile, peacekeepers have assisted people in two towns in the Kidal and Gao regions, as part of their ongoing support to communities in northern Mali.