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Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:36AM
French soldiers are seen at an airbase near Bamako, Mali. (File photo)

French soldiers are seen at an airbase near Bamako, Mali. (File photo)

France has devised a scenario to station a rapid reaction force in West Africa after its war on Mali ends, UN-based diplomats privy to the plan say. French diplomats have started briefing the UN, the US and other major powers on a plan for a so-called “beyond the horizon” force which will purportedly be tasked with conducting necessary future operations against the fighters in Mali. France has not informed its allies of the exact location of the force, but diplomats say it will probably be stationed in Senegal, Niger, or Chad, where France has military bases. On January 11, France launched a war in Mali under the pretext of halting the advance of fighters who had taken control of the north of the West African country. The United States, Canada, Britain, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark have aided France in its war on the African country. Meanwhile, French Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud has been in contact with his counterparts to inform them that France does not intend to abruptly end its military presence in Mali over the coming weeks but plans a gradual withdrawal. The French-led war in Mali has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in northern areas of the country and has displaced thousands of people, who now live in deplorable conditions. The people of northern Mali say the French war and the ruling junta are blocking the flow of humanitarian assistance to the war-affected areas. The northern Malians say the blockade of the area has undermined the activities of healthcare workers in several refugee camps. Most of the camps have dire shortages of necessities such as food and medicine. ASH/HMV
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