Germany has resumed reconnaissance patrols in eastern Mali as part of a UN peacekeeping mission known as MINUSMA, the military said Wednesday, after suspending the operations last month when the Malian government denied flyover rights.
“Reconnaissance operations outside the city of Gao resumed yesterday, Tuesday,” a military spokeswoman said in a statement. Most German forces in Mali are based close to Gao.
On August 12, the defence ministry said it had suspended reconnaissance and related operations after Mali’s ruling junta denied permission for flights to support personnel rotation under the UN’s MINUSMA mission. The decision was taken after Malian authorities prevented a flight carrying 110 German soldiers deployed with a United Nations peacekeeping mission from leaving the country, a defense ministry spokesman Arne Collatz told reporters Friday. Another 140 personnel, who were supposed to replace French troops that are in the process of withdrawing, couldn’t travel to the West African nation, he said.
In Wednesday’s statement, the military said that a unit that recently arrived in Gao, “was now fully ready to work, and had taken over the task of securing the camp”.
In August 12, the German military said it has resumed flights to Mali. Berlin has deployed some 1,000 troops to Mali, most of them near the northern town of Gao where their main task is to gather reconnaissance for the U.N. peacekeeping mission MINUSMA.
“At 5.47 a.m., a flight of a civilian contractor on behalf of the Bundeswehr took off from Cologne towards Mali,” the German forces said on Twitter, adding the aircraft was taking some 90 troops into the West African country.
MINUSMA, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, was launched in 2013 to help Mali cope with a bloody jihadi campaign.
The row erupted as Mali’s junta turns away from France and toward Russia in its fight against jihadism.
The long-running insurgency has claimed thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.
The relationship between Bamako and Paris, its former colonial power and traditional ally, has deteriorated in recent months.
The arrival of Russian paramilitaries in the country on the invitation of the government was a key factor in France’s decision to pull its military forces out.
France and its European partners withdrew troops, part of a counter-terrorism force, earlier this year. Egypt suspended its participation in the UN mission, known as Minusma, in July. Germany, with 1,100 troops, is the biggest Western contingent in the UN mission. In 2019, Germany donated 29 Casspir armoured personnel carriers and other equipment including 4,100 bullet-resistant vests, 4,300 combat boots, and 2,700 ballistic helmets to Mali.
In February, Germany deployed five of its CH-53G Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopters and an additional 120 personnel to Gao, Mali to support the United Nations mission (MINUSMA).