Chinese military dispatches peacekeeping troops to Mali for 10 consecutive years

China Military Online
Huang Panyue
2024-01-04 17:36:31

The 10th Chinese Peacekeeping Troops to MINUSMA returns to China after the mission. (Photo by Wang Jinpeng)

By Zhang Dongpan, Wang Xuechao, and Zhang Guangxuan

At the request of the United Nations (UN), China dispatched peacekeeping troops to Mali for the first time in December 2013. As the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) ended its mission in June 2023, the 10th Chinese peacekeeping troops to MINUSMA returned to China after completing their mission on December 23, 2023.

Located on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, Mali is characterized by its complex security situation, harsh natural environment, and rampant infectious diseases. It is therefore described as "the most dangerous mission area" by the UN. Over the past decade, the Chinese military has sent 10 batches of peacekeeping troops to Mali, including defense infantry, engineering and medical contingents, which have successfully completed multiple tasks such as guard and defense, engineering construction, and medical support.

The defense infantry contingent undertook security patrol, armed escorts, and other tasks. Stationed at the forefront of the peacekeeping super-camp and the defense perimeter, the peacekeepers of the contingent have to stand the test of blood and fire at all times.

In May 2016, when a car bomb attempted to attack the Chinese peacekeeping camp, Shen Liangliang, then sentinel on duty of the 4th Chinese peacekeeping engineering contingent to MINUSMA, spent the last 37 seconds of his life sounding the alarm and directing fire, winning precious time for avoiding more casualties. He was posthumously conferred the national honorary title of People's Hero.

In October of 2023, when the 10th Chinese peacekeeping troops were assisting in the construction of a hospital in Gao, an explosion occurred nearby. The defense infantry contingent guarding the perimeter immediately committed to the combat. They took advantage of the terrain and covered the construction personnel to quickly board the vehicle and safely return to the super-camp of the MINUSMA, which protected the security and safety of the peacekeepers to the maximum extent.

The peacekeeping engineering contingent earned respect and praise from friendly troops and local residents through its high standard of operations.

When they first arrived in Mali, they saw barren deserts, lacking clean water and power supply. Peacekeepers of the engineering contingent overcame difficulties under high temperature and built a fully equipped camp in just two weeks. Among the first peacekeeping troops deployed by the MINUSMA, the Bangladeshi peacekeeping troops have been living in a camp built by Chinese engineering troops since their arrival in the mission area. After close contact for a period long enough, the commander of the Bangladeshi peacekeeping troops said, "Due to their strict discipline and capable performance, the Chinese soldiers can accomplish their tasks very well."

Over the past 10 years, the Chinese peacekeeping engineering contingent to MINUSMA has leveled over 900,000 square meters of ground, built and repaired over a thousand plank houses, and assembled over 40,000 sandboxes. The MINUSMA officials and the peacekeeping troops from many other countries all spoke highly of China's speed and standard.

In the Mali mission areas, the lives and health of peacekeepers faced multiple risks. The arrival of the Chinese peacekeeping medical contingent provided them with effective health protection.

In 2013, the Chinese peacekeeping medical contingent set up the only Level-2 Hospital in Sector East of the MINUSMA, which took on the responsibility of providing medical service for more than 6,000 peacekeepers and humanitarian medical assistance for the local people.

In the face of the tense security situation, peacekeepers of the medical contingent kept on standby throughout the year. One early morning in March 2020, when informed that five peacekeepers were wounded in a roadside bomb attack, the medical contingent dispatched armored ambulances to recover and treat the wounded. Then, they conducted five surgical operations in the hospital simultaneously and eventually saved all the wounded from danger after more than 50 continuous hours of hard work.

Over the past 10 years, the medical contingent actively carried out free medical treatment, medicine donation, and other activities in Mali, which won them high praise from the UN officials, "Chinese peacekeepers have fully demonstrated their humanitarian spirit through protecting the security and safety of civilians, especially those vulnerable groups."

Today, although the Chinese peacekeeping troops have left Mali after completing their mission, the seeds of hope they brought to the Malian people have been sowed and deeply rooted in the land. China will continue to make its due contribution to the peace and development of Mali together with the international community.

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