Chadian Peacekeepers in Mali Abandoned Their Posts
They’ve pulled this stunt before
On Nov. 25, 38 Chadian peacekeepers serving with the U.N. mission in Mali abandoned their posts.
A U.N. spokesperson said the Chadians left to protest poor conditions, chiefly the slow delivery of food and water to their positions.
Officials acknowledged that conditions for the peacekeepers have been less than ideal. Instability in northern Mali has made logistics difficult. Hell, things are bad all over Mali.
The soldiers have reportedly agreed to return to their posts and resume their duties. But this isn’t new … and it could happen again. Chadian troops have an embarrassing history of insubordination.
The country’s troubles started in 2011 with a rebellion by ethnic Tuaregs in northern Mali. The Malian military—ill-disciplined, poorly-equipped and disorganized despite the best efforts of American trainers—fought back clumsily.
At one point, frustrated soldiers launched a coup and established a short-lived junta.
Meanwhile, secular Tuareg rebels, having entered into an alliance of convenience with the Islamists, continued their advance. The alliance collapsed and the Tuareg clashed with the Islamists.
The militants seized several cities, including ancient Timbuktu. They banned music and destroyed cultural artifacts.
Paris’ Operation Serval mostly quelled the rebellion. Chadian combat troops withdrew in April 2013. The Tuareg rebels signed a peace agreement with the government two months later in June.
U.N. peacekeepers took over from the French. Chadians returned to Mali under the U.N. banner.
But by September 2013, the ceasefire between the Tuaregs and the government had broken down. The same month, 160 Chadian peacekeepers deserted their posts in Tessalit in protest of problems with their pay.
Though they were fairly effective fighting the Islamists, the Chadians have problems as an army. Their equipment is shoddy, their training is lackluster and they have a sketchy human rights record and a history of using child soldiers.
Morale was already a problem before the U.N. mission. And peacekeeping missions can be particularly challenging for even well-prepared troops.
And the Mali mission has been deadly for the Chadians. In September alone, 10 Chadian peacekeepers died in two separate attacks, drawing an angry response from the Chadian government.
Officials in N’djamena released a strongly worded statement condemning the U.N.’s handling of Chad’s troops. It accused the U.N. of “discrimination” and of using Chadian troops as a “shield” for the mission’s other forces.
Chadian soldiers suggested to an AFP reporter that the U.N. was mistreating them because they’re African. But in fact, a Rwandan general leads the mission’s military component—and most of the other troops with the mission are also African.
And none of the other Africans have a habit of abandoning their posts.