Ottawa, 18 Rabiul Awwal 1434/30 January 2013 (MINA) – Canada announced Tuesday (29/1) that it was increasing its humanitarian aid to Mali but ruled out committing combat troops to a French-African mission to oust al Qaeda-linked militants from the troubled West African nation, according to Xinhua report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA), Wednesday.
Attending an international meeting at the African Union Secretariat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Canadian International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino said the Canada would provide 13 million Canadian dollars to help improve food security, reduce malnutrition, address emergency healthcare and provide humanitarian assistance to Mali.
Canada suspended direct aid to the country after junior army officers staged a coup last March, but the Canadian daily newspaper, The Globe and Mail, reported that Canada has provided 57 million dollars in humanitarian assistance through non- governmental organizations.
Ottawa will use the same route to disperse its new aid package through both Canadian non-governmental and United Nations agencies in support of the delivery of healthcare as well as maternal, newborn and nutrition services for children under five.
Some of the money will also deliver water, shelter, primary health care and sanitation to about 150,000 Malian refugees in Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, along with over 235,000 people dispersed in Mali.
Humanitarian agencies report that some two millions Malians have been left food-insecure and an estimated 383,000 have been displaced by the conflict.
Canada has also provided a heavy-lift transport plane to support French troops in Mali until Feb. 15. However, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House of Commons Monday there were no plans to augment that assistance by deploying troops and said that his government would consult with Canadian parliamentarians “on any further steps that need to be taken.”
Still, there is a Canadian presence in Mali. Report by The Globe and Mail said that special-forces soldiers are protecting Canadian diplomats in the capital of Bamako, but Ottawa has not provided any detail on the security operation.
Earlier in the month, the Canadian Foreign Affairs Department announced that it was relocating non-essential staff and their dependents from the embassy.
French television has also reported that Canadian special- forces training troops in Niger on counter-terrorism have transmitted intelligence to allies supporting Mali’s efforts to restore democracy. (T/P011/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)