UNITED NATIONS - UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned the UN Security Council against requiring the world body to provide logistical support for combat military operations in Mali, saying such a move would put UN civilian staff throughout the region at "grave risk."
The 15-member Security Council in December authorized in December the deployment of an African-led military force to help defeat al-Qaida and other Islamist militants in northern Mali and called on the secretary-general to submit funding options.
Then earlier this month France launched air strikes to halt a surprise Islamist offensive toward the Mali capital Bamako and has urged an acceleration of the deployment of the African force - known as AFISMA - to back up its 2,150-strong ground forces.
"The situation in Mali is critical. Terrorist organizations threaten the way of life of the Malian people, and even the existence of the state," Ban told the Security Council in a letter on Sunday to the council, obtained by Reuters on Tuesday.
In the letter Ban presented three options for funding AFISMA - bilateral logistical support without UN funding; complete UN logistical support for all phases of the operation that would be funded through states' mandatory UN contributions; or bilateral support for combat phases followed by UN support for the deployment and stabilization.