UN Mali Mission Fast Becoming Deadliest Ever for Peacekeepers

MINUSMA troops carry casket of fallen Nigerian peacekeepers killed in Oct. 2014 ambush (UN Photo).

MINUSMA troops carry caskets of fallen Nigerian peacekeepers killed in Oct. 2014 ambush (UN Photo).

March 10, 2015 – The two-year old UN peacekeeping mission in Mail suffered its thirty-sixth fatality through a malicious act over the weekend when a United Nations base was hit by rocket fire on Sunday in an attack that injured another 11 blue helmets along with three civilians.

The killed peacekeeper was the eighteenth from Chad to lose his life serving with MINUSMA, the 12,000-strong mission that was established in April 2013. In addition to the 36 peacekeepers killed in action, another ten have lost their lives through accidents or illness serving in Mali.

Of the 16 current UN peacekeeping missions, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon has suffered the most fatalities since its establishment in 1978 with a total of 308 blue helmets losing their lives since then, with 93 of those killed in action (another 130 more were killed in accidents, according to UN data).

But only one UNIFIL peacekeeper has been killed in action in the past seven years – that was in late January when a Spanish soldier was hit by Israeli artillery fire.

At the current rate of two peacekeeping fatalities per month from attacks on the force, MINUSMA is on track to become the most dangerous mission ever for UN peacekeepers.

Among the other current dangerous missions for blue helmets are Darfur, where 69 troops have been killed in action since 2008, and DRC, where 43 blue helmets have been killed since 2001 in what the UN terms malicious acts.

Congo was the site of the first UN peacekeeping mission with significant military force when ONUC was established in 1960. The mission was in place for five years and the 135 peacekeepers killed in action over that span is the most ever for a blue-helmeted force.

Countries that Have Lost Most Troops Serving with UN Peacekeeping Forces:
1. India – 158
2. Nigeria – 144
3. Pakistan – 137
4. Ghana – 133
5. Bangladesh – 123
6. Canada – 122
7. France – 111
8. UK – 103
9. Ethiopia – 98
10. Ireland – 90

Source
: UN Peacekeeping

- Denis Fitzgeald
On Twitter @denisfitz