UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous. File picture: Issouf Sanogo

United Nations -

The UN peacekeeping chief says unmanned drones will be deployed in Mali to help protect civilians in the volatile north and UN troops.

Herve Ladsous told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that the unmanned aerial vehicles will provide critical information for peacekeepers.

The UN is already using unmanned drones in its peacekeeping operation in Congo. Ladsous said late last month that he would like to deploy drones in countries like Mali, Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Mali's Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop said the drones are not in service yet but the government would like them “as soon as possible.”

Ethnic Tuarag separatists and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic extremists in the north were scattered following a French-led intervention last year but the Tuaregs have regained control of the key town of Kidal. - Sapa-AP