Extension of Bundeswehr missions in Mali and Niger
On Wednesday, the cabinet submitted two resolutions to the Bundestag on extending German participation in the UN mission MINUSMA and the EU training mission EUTM in Mali and Niger. The MPs still have to vote on them next week. The plan is to increase German participation in MINUSMA from 1,100 to 1,400 forces in Mali and to extend it until May 2023. Support for the EUTM mission, in which Germany is currently engaged in Mali and Niger with about 300 troops each, is to be reduced. While only 15 soldiers are to remain in Mali, the mission in Niger will continue with 230 forces as before. This mission is planned to run until the end of 2022. Back in April, the EU announced the end of training for Malian security forces. The EU accuses Mali, which has had a military government following two coups in 2020 and 2021, of massive human rights violations and of cooperating with Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group. It does not want to support this cooperation with German-trained forces. The UN mission MINUSMA is currently supported by the Bundeswehr in northern Mali, where it is protecting the civilian population from Islamist groups. France, which has also been in Mali for two bilateral missions, announced in February that it would withdraw all its troops by late summer 2022. Germany is expected to take over some of the French military’s tasks thereafter, prompting the cabinet to increase the mandate. It remains unclear how France’s four attack helicopters, which provided security for the foreign forces, will be replaced. In her speech to the Bundestag, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock emphasized that the government reserves the right to adjust German participation in MINUSMA or end it early if the security of the Bundeswehr forces is not guaranteed. Overall, Germany and the West have an interest in ensuring that Mali does not become a refuge for Islamist groups, also with regard to their own security. For this reason, a MINUSMA mandate continues to be important, Baerbock said.
15th World Land Conference in Côte d’Ivoire
On Monday, “the little sister of the World Climate Conference”, the COP15 started in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. It will run until 20 May and will be frequented by more than 5,000 delegates from politics, business and civil society worldwide, including 30 heads of state such as the presidents of Nigeria, D.R. Congo and Togo, among others. At the 15th conference of the 197 Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), concrete measures to combat the massive advance of land degradation will be sought and discussed. Currently, it is estimated that 40 percent of the planet’s topsoils have been permanently degraded, with far-reaching direct consequences for some four billion people. In view of challenges such as food security, a rapidly increasing world population and urbanisation, the ongoing destruction of biodiversity and global warming, the need for a package of measures is becoming increasingly urgent. Africa is particularly affected by the problem; its forest loss, for example, stands at four million hectares per year which is twice as fast as the global average. This is one of the reasons why the AU launched the Great Green Wall project 15 years ago. By 2030, 100 million hectares of dry land are to be restored in an 8,000 km strip from Senegal to Djibouti. But funding and therefore implementation of the projects are stalling. So far, only four to 20 percent of the goals have been achieved. The conference will gather donors, affected countries, and others to find efficient solutions together. Germany, as the host country of the UNCCD Secretariat and one of the Convention’s biggest supporters, hopes the meetings will set a good framework for further international cooperation, for example by removing legal and structural obstacles to sustainable land use and creating positive incentives for the conservation of fertile soils. This is intended to enhance the effectiveness of the practical support provided so far. The first concrete measure taken by the German delegation in the course of COP15 was the agreement on financial assistance for the expansion of renewable energies in Côte d’Ivoire, in return for which the country will refrain from opting for coal-fired power.
In other News
Tunisian Ons Jabeur won a prestigious tennis tournament in Madrid on Saturday, and thus made history: she is both the first Arab and the first African woman to win a WTA-1000 tournament. In a thrilling final, the 27-year-old defeated Jessica Pegula of the United States 7-5, 0-6, 6-2 to move up to seventh in the world rankings. Not only because of this, she is also one of the favorites for the French Open, which starts on May 22. Ons Jabeur sees herself as a representative of the African and Arab world in tennis and wants to inspire young girls and women from these regions to strive to emulate her successes. Congratulations!