Sweden's Mali force faces great challenges

A Swedish UN force is in the final stages of constructing of a 42,000-square metre base called Camp Nobel in Mali.

The base will include a hospital, garages and service stations. Once the water- and sewage systems are in place, the 200-strong Swedish Task Force will be able to start their work supporting the UN mission in Mali. It will be Sweden's largest UN mission in a decade.

There have been Swedish staff officers at MINUSMA's headquarters in Bamako since the spring of 2013, according to Swedish Armed Forces website. In the autumn of 2014, the Swedish presence increased in preparation for the arrival of the Swedish Task Force in January 2015.

Tuareg rebels in northern Mali as well as Islamists with ties to Al-Qaeda are the main source of the current instability in the country.

Lieutenant-colonel Carl Axel Blomdahl is head of the engineer troops from the Swedish town of Eksjö who are currently completing the construction of the base in Mali. Speaking to Swedish Radio News, he said:

"It has been relatively calm in the Timbuktu area. People are happy to see us there, they wave as we drive by. But then we know there are incidents just 40 to 50 kilometres to the east and west of us and down south, too. I would say that the situation right now is a bit more unstable and worrisome than when we first arrived."

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