MINUSMA - the Bundeswehr in Mali

37 images Created 13 Oct 2021

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was established in April of 2013 as an eventual response to the armed domestic conflict that arose in northern Mali one year prior in 2012.

Demanding further autonomy and independence from Mali’s Bamako-centric government, several armed groups including islamist factions as well as the Tuareg-formed „National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad“ (MNLA) joined forces and started an insurgency in the country’s north aiming to establish the „Independent State of Azawad“.
A power vacuum following the coup d’état against then President Amadou Toumani Touré in march 2012 further destabilized the country’s security situation, allowing insurgents to seize northern Mali’s three key cities Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal.
In early April, roughly two weeks after the coup d’état, the MNLA declared the Independent State of Azawad.
Islamist rebel groups fighting alongside the MNLA, foremost Ansar Dine which was believed to have ties to Al-Qaeda, gained control over large parts of the region when discrepancies about the imposition of Sharia law lead to fighting between the groups.

In January 2013, the French Government decided to intervene and launched Operation Serval (superseded by Operation Barkhane in 2014), in order to assist the Malian Government in re-taking the north from the hands of islamists.

As of 2022, MINUSMA and it’s 13.000 Blue Helmets are supposed to support political processes in Mali and assist the transitional authorities in stabilizing the country. 
Germany’s involvement includes up to 1.100 troops that are mainly based in „Camp Castor“ in Gao.

In summer 2021, I deployed with German Air Force Regiment's Bravo-Platoon, 2nd Squadron, as part of the contingent’s Force Protection element.

On the 25th of June, 2021, the Platoon was part of a reconnaissance operation hit by a Suicide Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Devise (SVBIED) near Tarkint, approx. 180 km north of Gao.
13 UN peacekeepers were wounded in the attack that was linked to the Al-Qaida affiliate JNIM (Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin’), a successor of Ansar Dine. It marked the first attack of its kind against German peacekeepers in Mali in the eight years since the start of the mission.

Part of these photos were taken for several diary-style stories I did for the German Army as well as the German Air Force.
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