22nd July 2024

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Mali govt urged to support safe withdrawal of UN mission

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The Mission is on track to leave the West African country by 31 December and “is fully committed to respecting this timeframe”

Mali must ensure that the UN Mission in the country, MINUSMA, can safely complete its drawdown by the end of the year, amid insecurity in the north and other restrictions.

“The UN underscores the responsibility of the Malian Transitional Government for the safety and security of peacekeepers and calls on it to extend all necessary cooperation to facilitate MINUSMA’s withdrawal,” the global body said in a note to correspondents issued on Sunday.

MINUSMA was established in 2013 by the UN Security Council, and has been called the deadliest place to be a peacekeeper. The Council terminated its mandate in June following a request by the country’s military government.

The Mission is on track to leave the West African country by 31 December and “is fully committed to respecting this timeframe.”

Concern for convoy

MINUSMA completed the accelerated withdrawal of troops and civilian personnel from its base in Tessalit in the restive north of Mali on Saturday, but remains concerned about the safety of a land convoy heading to Gao, some 550 kilometres (roughly 342 miles) away.

“The departure from Tessalit marks the first camp closure of MINUSMA in the Kidal region of northern Mali, amid a deteriorating security situation endangering the lives of hundreds of uniformed and civilian personnel,” the note said.

For example, a MINUSMA aircraft was hit by small arms fire while landing at Tessalit on Thursday, but “fortunately there were no injuries to the crew or major damage to the aircraft.”

Constantly adapting plans

MINUSMA will soon begin withdrawing from its base in Aguelhok, another village in the Kidal region, and is closely assessing the situation with a view to adjusting the plan.

“The Mission is continuously adapting to the evolving developments on the ground and a host of logistical constraints beyond its control, driven by the imperative of the safety and security of its peacekeepers. It is doing so in full transparency and impartiality, in line with the principles of peacekeeping,” the note said.

Forced to destroy assets

The UN recalled that the accelerated withdrawal from Mali “is resulting in the destruction of equipment, such as vehicles, equipment, ammunition, generators, and other assets, that should have been returned to Troop-Contributing Countries or redeployed to other United Nations peacekeeping missions, causing significant material and financial losses.”

The note went on to say that “such losses could have been avoided if the 200 trucks, held in Gao since 24 September 2023 due to movement restrictions, had been allowed to leave for the Kidal region to collect and transport equipment from the three MINUSMA bases, as part of the Mission’s overall withdrawal plan.”

The UN reminded the Malian authorities of their responsibilities and urged all parties “to enable MINUSMA to carry out all phases of the withdrawal in a safe and orderly manner.”

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