November 18, 2016 4:52 pm
Updated: November 18, 2016 4:58 pm

Canadian troops urgently needed to protect peacekeepers in Mali: UN official

Canada's Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan speaks to reporters during the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax, N.S. on Friday, November 18, 2016.

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A top United Nations official says Canada’s combat troops and helicopters are urgently needed to protect and ferry peacekeepers through the war-torn nation of Mali.

Atul Khare, the under secretary general of the UN’s Department of Field Support, oversees the logistical needs of blue berets around the globe, and made his comments in an interview at the Halifax International Security Forum.

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He says he accepts Canada has its own political agenda, but believes it could best assist the UN in the dangerous mission in Mali, along with contributions to a protection force in the South Sudan.

The United Nations established an operation in Mali called MINUSMA in April 2013 after French and African Union forces pushed back rebel and Islamic militant forces that had taken control in the north of the country.

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Islamic militants recently launched attacks on both a UN peacekeeping convoy and a Malian military camp in the country’s north, killing at least three people.

Khare says Canada’s ability to move military troops northwards by armed convoys or helicopters is needed to maintain the peace in Mali and help prevent further ambushes and deaths.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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