United Nations soldiers will take over from African troops in conflict-scarred Mali from Monday, making up the organization’s third-largest peacekeeping force by the end of the year.
United Nations soldiers will take over from African troops in conflict-scarred Mali from Monday, making up the organization's third-largest peacekeeping force by the end of the year.
A 12,600-strong force will take over security duties from French troops who entered Mali in January help the government re-establish its authority over the vast country.
France is winding down its deployment from its peak of nearly 4,500 but is to keep up to 1,000 troops in Mali and they will maintain responsibility for military strikes against the rebels, French officials said.
China has offered to supply more than 500 troops in what would be its biggest contribution to UN peacekeeping.
Sweden will send around 70 troops for a maximum of one year while Norway is to contribute 25 soldiers and police.
Bangladesh is thought to have offered the largest non-African contingent of up to 1,000 troops although no deal has yet been confirmed.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon has raised fears that the peacekeepers could face guerrilla attacks and has highlighted the lack of equipment and training among the West African troops already in Mali.
The UN mission is due to play a key role in presidential polls announced for July 28 but the election commission has raised doubts over its ability to stage a free and fair vote with such short notice.