Kelowna-Lake Country MP Steven Fuhr (front left) and the defence committee in Mali, Africa. (Photo/Steven Fuhr-Facebook)

Kelowna-Lake Country MP returns from mission in Mali

Liberal MP Steven Fuhr spent 10 days working on a report for the Canadian government.

Kelowna Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr got a first-hand view of the work Canada is doing to bring stability to Mali.

Fuhr was part of the Canadian government’s defence committee visit to the west African country as part of Operation PRESENCE—Mali, Canada’s effort to help set conditions for peace and development in Mali.

Fuhr, a 20-year military veteran, said he was happy with what he saw of the the operation during his 10 days in the area, where food, water, unemployment and issues of inequality have been reported.

“There’s 18 million people in Mali, and it’s in a fragile state,” said Fuhr.

“Canada is there supporting the community and stabilizing the region. (Our troops) set the bar very high, and everyone we talked to was happy that the Canadians were there.”

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The Canadian operation is in support of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which has been a combined effort by troops from Germany, Canada, Romania, and others to stabilize the area.

Just last week three UN peacekeepers were killed in the area of Siby, near the capital, Bamako.

The UN reports that, MINUSMA is the deadliest mission to serve in as a UN ‘blue helmet.’

More than 180 have died, since it was established in 2013. In 2019 alone, the number of fatalities stands at 15.

Canadian Forces have provided medical evacuations, helping more UN forces through the area, and has helped save lives with the delivery of blood products, something Fuhr said Canada is the first to be able to do.

His committee’s mission was to learn from the ongoing operation and report back in order to work towards an administrative analysis on the country’s response to the global conflict resolution.

“We’ll make recommendations to the government of Canada on what we can do better, or differently in the area,” said Fuhr.

Part of the committee’s report will detail the best, and safest, ways for the transition of Canadian troops out of the area, so Romania’s forces can replace the Canadians in the best possible way.

Canada’s expected to pull out of the area in July, said Fuhr.

“Canada is there for a humanitarian and compassion problem, and it is dangerous. But the (Canadian Armed) Forces are experts at mitigating risks,” he added.

“Canada has the ability to help, and that’s what we do. It’s something we can be very proud of.”

Mali is the eighth largest country in Africa and one of the poorest in the world.

It was destabilized after al-Qaeda-linked fighters took control of the northern areas of the country in early 2012.

France intervened, militarily, but Central Mali remains unstable owing to a resurgence of violence between ethnic groups, notably Fulani nomadic herders and Dogon farmers over access to land.

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