Canadian peacekeepers had been referred to as upon to evacuate a number of wounded French troopers in Mali earlier this month after their patrol was ambushed whereas attempting to find militants alongside the border with Niger.
The beforehand unreported incident marks the primary time the Canadians have been requested to assist non-United Nations forces in Mali, the place the French have been conducting counter-insurgency operations since 2014.
Canada has eight helicopters and 250 navy personnel in Mali, the place they’ve been offering emergency medical evacuations and transporting troops and tools throughout a big swath of the distant African nation.
The Canadians have performed seven different medical evacuations since August, all of which concerned injured UN troops and employees.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, the commander of Canada’s process drive in Mali stated the UN and France have agreed to assist one another in excessive circumstances and that his peacekeepers did their jobs by serving to save lives.
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“I wouldn’t need individuals to presume or assume that we’re supporting counterterrorism efforts,” stated Col. Travis Morehen. “However it’s actually at this level about saving allied lives.”
Information of the French evacuation comes because the federal authorities is considering a proper UN request to increase its peacekeeping mission in Mali, which is at the moment set to finish on the finish of July.
France has about three,000 closely armed troopers in Mali and the encircling area looking militants linked to al-Qaida, the Islamic State and different extremist teams by what is named Operation Barkhane.
Whereas Operation Barkhane has been credited with holding the quite a few Islamic extremist teams in Mali off steadiness, it has additionally been accused in some corners of contributing to instability within the area.
In response to media reviews, a French patrol was working close to Mali’s border with Niger on March 10 once they had been ambushed by a car filled with explosives and a gaggle of militants on bikes.
Fifteen French troopers had been reportedly injured, two significantly, earlier than the militants fled.
The Canadians first discovered concerning the assault when a French officer on the Operation Barkhane camp in Gao referred to as whereas it was nonetheless occurring and indicated an emergency medical evacuation could be required, stated Morehen.
The French counter-terror mission operates largely independently from the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, however Morehen says there’s a good working relationship between the 2.
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That features the French offering air-traffic management companies to the UN round Gao, the northern Malian metropolis that’s dwelling to a number of navy bases, together with one belonging to Barkhane and one other the place the Canadians are positioned.
The French additionally boast a extra succesful hospital than the UN, Morehen stated, which is why the Canadians typically find yourself bringing any wounded peacekeepers that they decide up within the subject to the Barkhane camp.
“So our pilots go over there and make it possible for we’ve got our flying procedures appropriate and we’ve got a technical association with them as nicely for medical assist,” Morehen stated.
“There’s a lot of sharing between us, which is all blessed by our governments.”
Three Canadian helicopters had been rapidly deployed with approval from the UN mission commander in Bamako, Morehen stated, and arrived on the scene about two hours later, at which level the preventing was over.
Due to the space, the 2 smaller Griffon escorts had been redirected to a close-by city to refuel whereas the bigger Chinook, which is configured like a flying hospital, continued again to Gao alone with the injured French troopers.
“It does improve the danger,” he stated, “however we balanced it towards the necessity to get these wounded again to medical amenities as quickly as attainable.”
Whereas he agreed that it was “the proper factor to do,” Walter Dorn, an knowledgeable on peacekeeping on the Canadian Forces Faculty in Toronto, stated the evacuation nonetheless risked linking the UN and French missions in some minds.
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“The danger is that we’re related to Barkhane and we then turn out to be topic to extra assaults and the road between peacekeepers and counter-insurgency fighters is blurred,” Dorn stated.
Morehen pushed again towards such options, insisting the evacuation was a particularly uncommon circumstance and that anybody who needs to focus on the UN – which has suffered dozens of casualties in Mali – will accomplish that it doesn’t matter what.
“The those that wish to do individuals hurt right here, they’ve already received it formulated of their thoughts,” he stated. “I don’t see how fathomable it’s that we’d be focused as a result of we gave a medevac to French forces.”