UN Security Council ambassadors to travel to Sahel region
UN Security Council ambassadors will travel to Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania this month to get a close-up view of a new regional force that France is hoping to shore up with financing, the French ambassador said Monday.
The Sahel force is set to begin operations this month, tasked with combating Islamic militants, some of whom have links to Al-Qaeda, but a question mark remains over funding.
France will use its presidency of the Security Council in October to focus attention on the new counterterrorism mission of up to 5,000 men set up by Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre said support for the Sahel force "needs to translate in terms of financing... both bilateral and multilateral."
The United States has resisted French appeals for UN financing but the European Union has stepped in with 50 million euros for the force, whose cost is expected to be several times that amount.
Delattre said the UN peacekeeping force in Mali, among the UN's costliest with an annual budget of over $1 billion, could provide logistical support to the Sahel force.
Council ambassadors will travel to the region from October 19 to 23.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is expected to travel to South Sudan later this month, will not be taking part in the mission.
France has 4,000 troops serving across the Sahel region with a counterterror mandate.