Romania will succeed Canada after its peace mission in Mali, which ends next summer, announced Thursday the Canadian Foreign Minister in a joint statement with his Romanian counterpart.
“Romania will provide transport helicopters to the United Nations peacekeeping mission for stabilization in Mali (Minusma) at the end of Canada’s deployment to Gao in 2019,” Chrystia Freeland said.
The Canadian mission, deployed in Gao since July 2018 as part of the Minusma, is due to end in late July 2019.
Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan on Thursday reasserted to several journalists that Canada would not extend its mission and leave Mali as planned in late July.
Romania “is committed to replacing us,” he said. “They work hard to have their forces approved by the United Nations just as we did to keep the schedule.”
“We have brought some new ideas that make the mission more efficient and we look forward to cooperating” with Romania, he added.
“Romania’s commitment to replace Canada is an example of continued and close cooperation among NATO allies,” added the head of Canadian diplomacy. Freeland said she had discussed with her Romanian counterpart Teodor Melescanu at a meeting of Atlantic Alliance foreign ministers in December 2018.
The Canadian force includes a contingent of some 250 personnel and eight helicopters: three Chinook helicopters (two in service and one spare) for medical evacuation and transportation, and five Griffons (four in service and one for serve as an armed escort and are used for defensive tasks.
Deployed in 2013, after northern Mali fell to jihadists linked to al-Qaeda, the Minusma has nearly 14,000 military and police.
It is the most costly of all UN peacekeeping operations in operation with nearly 180 deaths, including more than 100 in hostile acts, more than half of all peacekeepers killed in the United Nations. the world for five years.