United Nations: UN leader Ban Ki-moon said that direct support by the global body for military attacks against Islamist militants in Mali could put UN workers at risk of reprisals.
The United Nations is under pressure to provide funding for the international effort in Mali. Ban said he had "flagged the risks" to UN workers in a report to the UN Security Council setting out options for UN support.
He told a press conference on Tuesday that the proposed African force in Mali needs "critical logistical support" to help it take over from French forces who launched an emergency military operation against Al-Qaeda linked Islamists.
"Let there be no doubt, we are firmly committed to helping Mali in its hour of need. At the same time, any assistance must fall within UN guidelines, including its due diligence policy on human rights," Ban said.
"Directly assisting offensive military actions would also place our civilian personnel in the region in jeopardy. I take this issue very seriously." The UN leader said the international community must put every effort into finding a political solution to the crisis.
The United Nations has a huge humanitarian operation in the Sahel because of the Mali conflict and drought in other countries. The UN estimates 350,000 people have fled their homes because of the Islamist uprising in Mali.
Ban said he had set out three options for helping the so-called African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA). He did not give details, however.
The 15-member Security Council will take a final decision on UN support for the African force which is just starting to assemble as France pursues its emergency military operation.
Ban praised France for its "courageous decision" to send troops to halt an offensive by Al-Qaeda linked militants. He also praised the West African countries who are sending troops for AFISMA.


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