U.N. sends rights envoy to Mali

Oct. 18, 2013 at 10:26 AM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- The United Nations said Friday it was dispatching a human rights expert to Mali to get a sense of how well the country was recovering from war.

The Malian government in January called for military support from former colonial power France to help fight nomadic and al-Qaida fighters. They seized territory in northern Mali in the wake of a 2012 coup and were routed by French troops.

The United Nations Office at Geneva, Switzerland, said Friday it was sending Suliman Baldo, former Africa director at the International Center for Transitional Justice in New York, to Mali for a two-week tour starting Monday.

"This is the first country visit by an independent expert charged by the United Nations Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the human rights situation in Mali, and to identify areas of technical assistance and capacity building that will help the country to fulfill its human rights obligations," the United Nations said.

The Malian government is working to unify a divided country. Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, elected in August, told the U.N. General Assembly last month he was reaching out to northern communities to invite them to an "inclusive dialogue" on reconciliation.

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