African troops in the Mali mission
23rd January 2013, 0 comments
The regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has pledged up to 4,000 troops to join a French-led intervention force to stop the advance of Islamist rebels based in northern Mali.
Known as the MISMA (International Mission for Support to Mali), the force has been set up in line with a United Nations resolution and is headed by Nigerian General Shehu Abdulkadir.
As of Wednesday, between 500 and 700 west African troops were already on the ground in Mali, according to an AFP count.
The African force will be supported by 2,000 soldiers from Chad, which is not part of the regional grouping, but will work in close coordination.
Mali's former colonial ruler France has at this stage a total of 2,300 boots on the ground in Mali, according to the defence ministry in Paris. The deployment is due to reach at least 2,500.
For its part, the European Union last week gave its support to France for its military intervention and agreed to send military trainers for Mali's embattled army while funding the African-led force.
Below is a breakdown of the African contribution:
NIGERIA: The regional powerhouse plans to send a total of 900 troops, with a possibility of going up to 1,200. Around 200 soldiers, as well as the Nigerian force commander, are already deployed in Mali's capital Bamako.
TOGO: Has boosted its troop allotment for Mali to an infantry batallion of at least 730, of whom around 100 are already in the country.
BENIN: Has increased its troop allotment for Mali to 650 soldiers, of whom around 50 are already in place.
NIGER: Is sending a batallion of 500 men, which is currently stationned in the region of Ouallam to the north of Niamey, near to the border with Mali.
BURKINA FASO: Has said it will contribute a battalion of 500 troops, who will be stationned in the frontline region of Markala, to the north-east of Bamako. A first contingent of 150 men is already in Mali.
SENEGAL: Will send 500 soldiers to Mali, of which some 50 have arrived in Bamako.
IVORY COAST: A 500-strong logistical battalion, of which only part will be deployed in Mali.
GUINEA: 125 soldiers.
GHANA: Will send 120 engineering troops to Mali.
CHAD: N'Djamena, which is not a member of ECOWAS, is to send 2,000 soldiers, including an infantry regiment and two support battalions, to Mali.
Some 400 soldiers are already in position in Niamey. Along with the Nigerian troops they are set to head directly to Mali's Islamist bastion of Gao in the north.
Britain, the United States, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and Italy have promised to help the African force by providing transport planes and logistics, including fuel and supplies.
© 2013 AFP