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African troops passing baton to UN peacekeepers

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) -- the west-African and Chadian force being replaced by UN peacekeepers on Monday -- was set up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

It was established under a UN resolution to help the government regain control of northern Mali after the territory was occupied last year by armed Islamist groups who committed atrocities against the local population.

AFISMA, led by Nigerian general Shehu Abdulkadir, is made up of more than 6,000 men.

It will be absorbed from Monday into MINUSMA, a force of UN peacekeepers which is set to consist of more than 12,600 personnel by the end of the year, including 11,200 soldiers and 1,440 police officers.

AFISMA was supported by 2,000 Chadian soldiers who fought Islamists on the front lines alongside the French military.

France has 3,200 troops in Mali as part of Operation Serval, a Franco-African coalition to oust the Islamists.

The European Union has also approved the deployment of a 450-member mission to train and reorganise the Malian army.

Here is a breakdown of African contributions to AFISMA:

- NIGERIA: 900 men, with the capacity to increase to 1,200

- TOGO: a 730-man infantry battalion

- BENIN: 650 men

- NIGER: 675 soldiers, mostly based in and around Gao, northern Mali's largest city

- BURKINA FASO: about 660 men in the area of Timbuktu. The Burkinabe quota will eventually reach 990 military and police

- SENEGAL: 800 men, including soldiers and police deployed to Gao

- IVORY COAST: a logistics battalion of about 200 men

- GUINEA: 125 men

- GHANA: 120 men from an engineering unit

Under MINUSMA, China has promised to send more than 500 soldiers including engineers and a medical corps, Norway 25 and Sweden 70 while Bangladesh could send up to 1,000 troops, according to UN diplomats, although this is yet to be confirmed

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130629/african-troops-passing-baton-un-peacekeepers