The Canadian government announced on Friday the extension of Canadian troops participating in a peacekeeping mission in Mali until the end of August to facilitate the transfer of Romanian helicopter crews to support the UN mission..
Canada begins withdrawing its air force gradually in Mali at the end of July, in anticipation of the arrival of Romanian helicopter crews to replace Canadians in support of the United Nations peacekeeping force with medical equipment and tactical capabilities.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan told a joint press conference in Ottawa that Canadian operations in Mali would be curtailed and would be confined to medical evacuations until the end of the mission on August 31, 2019..
Last summer, Canada deployed about 250 troops and eight helicopters to provide the UN integrated Multidimensional Mission with 24-hour air evacuation capability as well as tactical air transport.
Canada has rejected repeated UN requests to extend its mission in Mali for a few weeks to allow the Romanian contingent to operate at full capacity.
The departure of Canadian troops from Mali at the end of July, as initially planned, would leave the UN mission with a gap in its capacity for medical and tactical air transport because Romanian crews would be fully operational in mid-October.