UN renews Mali peacekeeping force without cuts

French President Emmanuel Macron visits French troops in Africa’s Sahel region, Gao, northern Mali, 19 May, 2017. (Reuters)
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Updated 30 June 2020

UN renews Mali peacekeeping force without cuts

  • Washington — the largest financial contributor to the UN — has regularly questioned the mission, which costs $1.2 billion annually
  • Despite the presence of thousands of French and UN troops, the conflict has engulfed the center of the country and spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger

UNITED NATIONS, United States: The United Nations renewed its peacekeeping force in Mali for another year Monday, without a reduction in personnel despite the US earlier questioning the mission’s validity.
The UN Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of MINUSMA until June 30, 2021.
Its renewal allows for the number of soldiers to continue to comprise of up to 13,289 soldiers and 1,920 police officers.
For more than a year, Washington — the largest financial contributor to the UN — has regularly questioned the mission, which costs $1.2 billion annually, deeming it ill-suited to the ongoing violence in the west African nation.
The semi-arid country is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that erupted in 2012 and which has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives since.
Despite the presence of thousands of French and UN troops, the conflict has engulfed the center of the country and spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
In June the US had requested that a plan be drawn up for the gradual ending of MINUSMA.
Earlier this month, Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the mission “remains crucial.”
The renewal does commit to presenting a “possible exit strategy” for the mission by March 2021.
The resolution calls for the implementation of a 2015 peace agreement.


Interpol warns of ‘alarming’ cybercrime rate during pandemic

Updated 33 min 49 sec ago

Interpol warns of ‘alarming’ cybercrime rate during pandemic

  • Cybercriminals are increasingly using disruptive malware against critical infrastructure and health care institutions
  • There was also an increase in the spread of fake news and misinformation which sometimes itself conceals malware

LYON: Global police body Interpol warned Monday of an “alarming” rate of cybercrime during the coronavirus pandemic, with criminals taking advantage of people working from home to target major institutions.
An assessment by the Lyon-based organization found a “significant target shift” by criminals from individuals and small businesses to major corporations, governments and critical infrastructure.
“Cybercriminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace, exploiting the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable social and economic situation created by COVID-19,” said Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock.
“The increased online dependency for people around the world is also creating new opportunities, with many businesses and individuals not ensuring their cyberdefenses are up to date,” he added.
The report said cybercriminals were sending COVID-19 themed phishing emails — which seek to obtain confidential data from users — often impersonating government and health authorities.
Cybercriminals are increasingly using disruptive malware against critical infrastructure and health care institutions, it added.
In the first two weeks of April 2020, there was a rise in ramsomware attacks, in which users have to pay money to get their computer to work again.
There was also an increase in the spread of fake news and misinformation which sometimes itself conceals malware, said Interpol.
From January to April, some 907,000 spam messages, 737 incidents related to malware and 48,000 malicious URLs — all related to COVID-19 were detected by one of Interpol’s private sector partners, it said.
The agency warned the trend was set to continue and a “further increase in cybercrime is highly likely in the near future.”
“Vulnerabilities related to working from home and the potential for increased financial benefit will see cybercriminals continue to ramp up their activities and develop more advanced and sophisticated” methods, it said.
Once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, Interpol said, “it is highly probable that there will be another spike in phishing related to these medical products as well as network intrusion and cyberattacks to steal data.”