United Nations Says Troops in Mali Need Stronger Capacities

United Nations Secretary-Seneral Ban Ki-moon said the UN mission in Mali needs stronger capabilities to cope with increased violence in the West African nation.

The UN mission will benefit from “strengthened cease-fire mechanisms” and “proactive engagement with all armed groups” to help stabilize the country following a peace accord signed by some insurgents, the UN chief said in a report to the Security Council e-mailed on Wednesday.

Attacks against UN troops by Islamist militants and separatists have surged this year, especially in the desert north. The government and some armed groups signed a cease-fire agreement last month, but the violence hasn’t stopped.

UN troops in northern Mali are struggling with a shortage of security vehicles, water scarcity in some areas and a lack of alternative supply routes, according to the report.

“Northern Mali is an extremely difficult environment in which to operate,” according to the report. “Violent extremism, transnational organized crime and banditry will still pose significant threats to ongoing stabilization efforts.”

France and the UN sent troops to Mali in 2013 to regain control of the north after Islamist militants joined separatist insurgents who had driven the army out of the region. The UN has 9,043 military personnel and 1,055 police deployed in Mali.