The Women Keeping Peace in the Deadliest Place

November 21, 2018

November 21, 2018: Superintendent Catherine Ugorji is settling in for another 24-hour shift monitoring UN patrols in the troubled Malian city of Gao. This formidable Nigerian policewoman cracks jokes with colleagues from Burkina Faso and Tunisia in fluent French, and scans her computer screen for the evening's planned routes.

As a woman, she is a highly unusual presence on the sprawling UN base here, where the prefabricated buildings, mess hall and football field are all full of men. She is one of just 477 female police and military working for Mali's 15,000-strong peacekeeping mission, and the UN would like to recruit more. But the job is a difficult sell.

The Mali mission has the grim distinction of being the deadliest active peacekeeping deployment in the world, with 106 blue helmets murdered so far by hostile forces and dozens more killed by accidents and illness.

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