Bamako — THE killing of more than 80 peacekeepers in Mali has prompted calls for the United Nations to increase its presence in the West African country. The UN Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is also hampered by crucial funding gaps in equipment and expertise. Of the 170 peacekeepers killed while serving in UN missions globally since the beginning of 2013 up to the end of September this year, 86 were with MINUSMA. "We need to do more in terms of training, how the force is organized, and modalities of how we protect ourselves and better-protect the population as well, against the threats they are facing," said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. He said peacekeepers faced "very serious challenges" in the four-year-old operation to fulfil its mandate in Mali. Lacroix appealed for other troop contributing countries (TCCs) to come forward to help staff one the UN's most dangerous peacekeeping missions. The country of 18 million people has experienced instability since a rebellion by Muslim extremists in the north in 2012. A coup by military officer Amadou Sanogo, against then-President Amadou Toumani Touré, followed. Militants disregard the administration of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, elected in 2013.
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