China to dispatch 5th peacekeeping force to Mali

Chinese UN peacekeepers in Mali are on patrol with an armored car. Photo: CFP

A 395-strong Chinese peacekeeping force is set to begin peacekeeping missions in Mali on behalf of the United Nations before the end of May.

The troops will be sent to the West African country in two batches, where they will stay for one year.

The troops include military engineers, security personnel and medical staff. This is the fifth Chinese peacekeeping force to be sent to Mali.

In the past four years, 118 peacekeepers have been killed — making the U.N. mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, the world body’s deadliest ongoing peace operation, this according to the Washington Post.

About 11,000 UN troops arrived in Mali in 2013, they were meant to protect a fledgling peace deal and train the Malian army. The Islamist extremists regrouped across the region and began targeting peacekeepers, whom they dubbed “Crusader occupation forces.”

According to the report, the Mali mission is the only one of the 16 active U.N. peacekeeping operations that authorizes troops to deter and counter “asymmetric threats” — that is, terrorist groups — that could harm its work or civilians.