Norway supports the authorities in Mali through the UN operation MINUSMA. Currently, Norway has deployed staff officers to the MINUSMA headquarters in Bamako.
The global security situation is rapidly changing. The rise of violent extremism, organised crime, terrorism and piracy affects the whole world – including Norway.
Mali is an inland state in West Africa and has recently experienced unrest, especially in the north. The UN mission MINUSMA was established to provide the country's citizens a safer everyday life, and better conditions for democracy, security and economic growth.
A more stable state will make Malian authorities better equipped to gain control of the Islamist groups in the north. It will also be easier to stop the many smuggling routes that send weapons and drugs north towards Europe. Human traffickers also use routes through Mali. Norway has participated in MINUSMA since 2013.
Norway’s contribution to MINUSMA as of 2023
- Six Norwegian staff officers work at the MINUSMA Military Headquarters in Bamako. Norway has deployed staff officers to the headquarters since 2013.
Norway has made various contributions to MINUSMA since 2013. First, an analysis and information unit, later with three air transport contributions (2016, 2019 and 2020–21) and operation of the Norwegian camp Bifrost outside the capital Bamako. The camp was run by a Norwegian unit and protected by a Norwegian force protection team. The camp was closed in November 2022 and handed over to the UN.
See below for more information about the contributions Norway has made in the years 2013–2022.
Norway and MINUSMA
In September 2013, the first four Norwegian officers were in place in Mali. From 2013 to November 2015, Norway contributed with approximately 20 officers to the UN Information and Analysis Unit (ASIFU). Three of the Norwegian analysts remained for three months to ensure a good transition with the analysts who took over the tasks from the Norwegian personnel. The information and analysis unit collects and analyzes information from several actors. This involves, among other things, looking at ethnic flows and tribal antagonism, corruption and misrule both in Mali and in MINUSMA's area of interest. The purpose is to establish an understanding of the security situation in Mali, which contributes to increasing the security of UN personnel in the area of operations.
In March 2014, personnel from the Machinery and Construction Company from the Engineer Battalion in Brigade North were deployed to Bamako. Their task was to set up Norwegian materiel in the multinational UN camp that houses the analysis unit's headquarters. The company spent six weeks building this part of the camp. The goal was to establish the camp before the rainy season started, which they managed with brilliance.
The Machinery and Construction Company based at Rena, has been used in international operations since the 2000s. They are best known for building the Norwegian Camp Nidaros in Mazar-e Sharif in Afghanistan, a field hospital in Chad, and Camp Midgard in Iraq.
In autumn 2014, engineers from the Norwegian Armed Forces supported Sweden with the construction of a Swedish camp in the UN operation in Timbuktu, northern Mali. This was done at the request of Sweden.
The Swedish contribution was responsible for part of the information gathering in the analysis unit Norway had a leadership role in.
At the beginning of November 2014, a Norwegian mentor team with special expertise from the Machinery and Construction Company was deployed to Timbuktu. This entry was completed in March 2015.
In the end of November 2015, a Norwegian force was established in Bamako to prepare the infrastructure and facilities for the new Norwegian transport aircraft contribution in Mali. The force consisted of personnel from the Army's Machine and Construction Company at Rena, the Cyber Defence’s Communication and Information System Task Groups as well as staff from the Norwegian Air Force.
On 27 January 2016, the Norwegian Tactical Airlift Detachment (NORTAD) announced its readiness. The contribution consisted of a C-130J Hercules transport aircraft and a Fly-Away Security Team from Ørlandet. In total, the Norwegian force contribution consisted of approximately 70 people. The plane carried a total of over 550,000 kilos of goods and 15,000 passengers to the risk-exposed Northern part of Mali. The transport aircraft mission was terminated in November 2016.
In 2016, Norway took the initiative for a rotation scheme for an aircraft capacity for MINUSMA. The scheme means that MINUSMA will have continuous transport aircraft capacity where Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and Portugal will make an aircraft available in turn. On 1 April 2019, the Norwegian government decided to extend the rotation scheme by two years, until 2022.
From 15 May to 15 November 2019, Norway contributed with one Hercules C-130J transport aircraft as a tactical transport capacity to transport personnel and cargo around Mali. The detachment from Norway consisted of around 60 women and men with backgrounds from various disciplines.
From December 2020 to 24 May 2021, Norway deployed one Hercules C-130J military transport aircraft to MINUSMA for the third time. The Norwegian contribution was officially called Norwegian Tactical Airlift Detachment (NORTAD III).
The military transport aircraft was used as a tactical capacity for transportation of personnel and supplies throughout Mali. The Norwegian detachment consisted of approximately 70 men and women, including pilots, navigators, load masters, technicians, ground crew, mission support, force protection, and other support personnel.
On 25 April 2013, the UN Security Council, through Resolution 2100, adopted the operation United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The UN mission was asked to support political processes in the country and conduct a number of security-related tasks. In July 2013, the forces assisted in conducting a free, peaceful and inclusive election in Mali.
On 25 June 2014, the UN Security Council, through Resolution 2164, decided to alter the mandate. The new tasks of the operation were to ensure the security of and protect civilians, support national political dialogue and reconciliation, assist in the re-establishment of state authorities and the reconstruction of the security sector, and to promote and protect human rights in the country. On 29 June 2015, the mandate was extended and included supporting, monitoring and supervising the implementation of the ceasefire and supporting the implementation of the peace and reconciliation agreement adopted on 20 June 2015.
MINUSMA authorized a total force of 12,680, of which 11,240 are military personnel and 1,440 police officers. In addition, an appropriate number of civilian personnel are connected to the operation.
In recent years Mali has been characterized by unrest, especially in the northern parts of the country. Corruption, abuse of power, climate change and weak government institutions are among the many and complex causes of the unrest.
In January 2012, a series of attacks on the government in northern Mali was carried out by a group of Tuaregs, an indigenous people in northern Mali. The group called itself the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad. The movement wanted secession from Mali and to create a separate state, Azawad. They received support from the Islamist groups Ansar Dine, Al-Qaeda and the Movement for Unity and Jihad for West Africa.
On March 22, 2012, a military junta, which called itself the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State, carried out a military coup. The junta consisted of soldiers who had been defeated in the north. The coup led to the collapse of the state in the north, which led the MLNA to take control of the important cities of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu in northern Mali. Not long after this, unrest broke out again in the north, when Islamist groups turned against the Tuaregs and introduced sharia law and brutal punishments.
Against this background, France deployed troops to the country in 2013 to assist the government, and then recaptured the important cities of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. France's contribution managed, in a period of a few weeks, to carry out several effective operations. France has since toned down its contribution and left large parts of the hold phase to Malian and other forces. The security situation in Mali is demanding, but with large differences between the northern and the southern part of the country.