United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions need effective casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) systems to enable peacekeepers to mitigate risk and undertake their core mandated activities with confidence. Chief among these tasks for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is the protection of civilians. If peacekeepers themselves feel unsafe and have doubts about a mission’s ability to provide them with life-saving medical treatment, it inevitably constrains their willingness and capacity to protect local populations. The ability to evacuate casualties to hospitals and provide peacekeepers with adequate medical treatment is especially salient for MINUSMA, which has seen more personnel killed by hostile actors than any other mission in the history of UN peacekeeping.
In early 2020, MINUSMA adopted a new standard operating procedure for CASEVAC operations in an attempt to speed up the evacuation of casualties. The reform entailed the decentralization of most of the responsibilities for authorizing and managing CASEVAC operations. This policy brief, “Improving Casualty Evacuations in UN Peacekeeping: MINUSMA’s Experience of Decentralizing Launch Authority”, examines how the decentralized system is functioning and whether it has changed the Mission’s ability to quickly and safely evacuate casualties to medical facilities.
The brief offers a series of recommendations based on more than 100 interviews with MINUSMA officials and other stakeholders across Mali. These recommendations outline how the Mission, the UN Secretariat, Member States, and troop and police contributing countries (T/PCCs) can support MINUSMA’s progress and continue to improve the CASEVAC system. Finally, CIVIC addresses a dilemma that several UN peacekeeping missions face—whether to evacuate non-UN civilians to hospitals when they have been wounded as the result of conflict-related violence.
MINUSMA has provided an official response statement, which is available to read in full here.