In Mali, it is UN peacekeepers — and not the civilians they are meant to protect — who have become the primary targets of a growing insurgency.
This is upending the traditional UN playbook. For example, protection of civilians is at the heart of the mandate of MINUSMA. Normally, peacekeepers would carry out that task through a model known as “protection by presence” in which blue helmets patrol communities to deter combatants from targeting civilians. But that cannot work in a context in which peacekeepers themselves are the target. “Protection of civilians in a place like Mali cannot look like what it looks like in other missions,” says Aditi Gorur of the Stimson Center. “Since peacekeepers are the target, placing them in the community would have the opposite effect.”
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