9 May 2019

Africa: German Parliament Extends Army's Africa Missions

Photo: Harandane Dicko/UN
MINUSMA conducting an operation in Gao, Mali.

The Bundestag has voted to extend three missions in Mali and Somalia for another year. But special forces deployments in Niger and Cameroon have drawn parliamentarians' ire.

The German Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, voted overwhelmingly to extend three army missions in Africa for another year on Thursday. The army, known as the Bundeswehr, is currently engaged in one UN and one EU mission in Mali and another EU mission in Somalia.

The mandate for all three missions will run until late May of 2020.

Yet the deployment of German special forces units in Niger and Cameroon drew harsh criticism from parliamentarians who accused the government of illegally bypassing lawmakers.

UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA

The Bundeswehr's UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA in Mali, which began in 2013, is designed to bolster Mali's government and deny quarter to terrorists.

As terrorist groups are heavily involved in organized crime and human trafficking, the mission is considered a priority for its impact beyond Mali's borders.

Some 50 nations currently deploy about 13,000 soldiers and 1,700 police in the West African county. Around 840 German soldiers actively participate in the mission at the moment, though the mandate allows for up to 1,100.

Mali has been roundly criticized for not doing enough to bring about a political solution to the local conflicts. More than 150 UN troops have been killed since the mission began.

The German government has called the security situation in Mali "fragile," and calculates mission extension costs for MINUSMA at €314 million ($352 million).

European Union advisory and training mission EUTM

The Bundeswehr also participates in the EUTM mission sponsored by the European Union, which is designed as a training mission for Mali's armed forces.

The EUTM mandate does not call for European troops to directly engage in missions carried out by the Malian army.

The Bundeswehr is tasked with advising Mali's Defense Ministry and army leadership, as well as protecting MINUSMA staff.

Some 620 soldiers from 22 EU member states participate in the mission, which also began in 2013. The Bundeswehr mandate allows for up to 350 troops, though that number is currently lower, with 190 German soldiers deployed. Berlin says that a year-long extension of the EUTM mission will cost €41 million.

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