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The final group of United Nations peacekeepers are ready to fully withdraw from Mali.
Africa World News

The final group of United Nations peacekeepers are ready to fully withdraw from Mali.

In 2013, MINUSMA, the United Nations mission for stabilizing Mali, was sent to the country after a rebellion by separatist rebels and a military coup in the northern region.

With the approval of UN Security Council resolution 2100, the operation consisted of a team of over 15,000 soldiers and staff members who were deployed in various cities and towns throughout the nation.

El-Ghassum Wane, the departing Special Representative of the Secretary-General and leader of MINUSMA, believes that our efforts have had a positive effect on the lives of numerous citizens in Mali.

Tackling range of challenges

During its 10 years of service, MINUSMA has assisted Mali in addressing various difficulties. As one of the United Nations’ most demanding peacekeeping efforts, it has experienced over 300 casualties among its soldiers and staff due to ongoing extremist attacks and widespread instability in the northern and central regions.

Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the United Nations, announced that on Saturday night, the UN Secretary-General extended his sincerest appreciation to the MINUSMA team, particularly Mr. Wane, the Head of Mission. Dujarric stated that Mr. Wane has demonstrated exceptional leadership in a difficult environment.

“Mr. Dujarric expressed his condolences for the 311 MINUSMA members who died and the 700+ who were injured while serving for peace in Mali over the past decade. He also stated that the United Nations community stands with the families, friends, and colleagues of the fallen staff, and is motivated by their dedication to the pursuit of peace.”

Mr. Dujarric stated that Mr. Guterres acknowledged the significant contribution of MINUSMA in safeguarding civilians and supporting the peace process. This includes upholding the ceasefire outlined in the 2015 peace and reconciliation agreement, as well as aiding the transition, restoring government control, and providing benefits of peace to the people.

Election officials in Mali prepare materials for the second round of the presidential elections  on the day of the vote at a polling station in the Banaconi district in Bamako in 2018. (file)

MINUSMA/Harandane Dicko

In 2018, election personnel in Mali are getting ready for the second round of the presidential elections by organizing materials at a polling station located in the Banaconi district of Bamako.

Supporting political process

MINUSMA supported the political process and carried out a number of security-related stabilization tasks, with a focus on major population centres, protecting civilians, human rights monitoring, creating conditions for providing humanitarian assistance and the return of displaced persons as well as preparing free, inclusive and peaceful elections.

The peace mission was responsible for taking any necessary actions to combat any obstacles that could hinder the execution of its objectives. This included safeguarding civilians who were in immediate danger of physical harm and protecting UN staff from remaining threats, within its abilities and assigned regions.

A UN civilian staff member explains the mandate of the peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, to students in Bamako, Mali, in 2013. (file)

UN Photo/Marco Dormino

In 2013, a UN civilian employee in Bamako, Mali, discussed the duties of the peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, with students. (file)

Mission terminated

In a meeting with the UN Security Council on June 16, the foreign minister of Mali asked for the removal of MINUSMA. The transitional government also released a statement on the same day, restating their request for the prompt departure of the UN mission.

The Security Council is responsible for establishing UN peacekeeping mandates, however, the success of missions depends heavily on the support and cooperation of the host authorities.

On June 30th, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved resolution 2690, effectively ending MINUSMA’s previous mission and requesting the transfer of its responsibilities. The Mission is also required to safely and orderly withdraw by December 31, 2023, followed by a liquidation period.

A Rwandan peacekeeper from the MINUSMA Formed Police Unit speaks with children while patrolling the streets of Gao in northern Mali.

The photo above was taken by UN photographer Marco Dormino.

A peacekeeping officer from Rwanda, part of the MINUSMA Formed Police Unit, engages in conversation with children while conducting patrols on the streets of Gao, located in the northern region of Mali.

Integrated withdrawal plan

In order to achieve this objective, MINUSMA created a comprehensive strategy for withdrawal that prioritizes the protection and well-being of UN staff, meets the deadline of December 31st, maintains the mission’s impact, and supports continued UN involvement in Mali.

From July 1, MINUSMA has been gradually removing its staff and transferring control of its bases to Malian civilian authorities when possible.

In the last half year, MINUSMA has faced difficulties in safely removing its staff. This Sunday, the mission will finish its withdrawal process.

Liquidation period begins

The liquidation period will commence on Monday, January 1st, 2024.

According to the UN spokesperson, a reduced team and the remaining personnel from countries contributing troops and police will stay in Gao and Bamako to supervise the organized transfer of assets and proper disposal of equipment owned by the UN.

The United Nations leader is relying on the transitional government to fully cooperate in order to expedite the completion of this process. He stated this.

The United Nations will remain present even after MINUSMA’s departure.

The head of MINUSMA, Mr. Wane, stated that the mission may depart, but the United Nations will continue to be present in Mali.

He stated that the UN funds, agencies, and programmes have been present in Mali prior to the deployment of MINUSMA and will continue to be present in Mali even after the withdrawal.

UN peacekeepers from Chad patrol the streets of Kidal, Mali, in 2016. (file)

MINUSMA/Sylvain Liecht

In 2016, Chadian UN peacekeepers were seen patrolling the streets of Kidal, Mali. (file)

Reiterating the sentiment, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Mr. Dujarric, stated on Saturday that the UN remains dedicated to collaborating with the Malian citizens and transitional government in efforts to reinstate constitutional governance, and to advance peace, security, and sustainable development in the country.

The UN, along with its 21 agencies, funds, and programs in Mali, will work together with the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and the Special Coordinator for Development in the Sahel to continue supporting the country’s pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals outlined in Agenda 2030.

Mr. Dujarric stated that the actions being taken aim to fulfill the agreed-upon goals of the Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for 2020 to 2024 between the UN and the Government of Mali.

To reflect on the past ten years of MINUSMA’s work, please refer to our photo essay here.

Residents of Timbuktu pass by Djingareyber Mosque, among the historical architectural structures that earned the city the designation of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

UN Photo/Marco Dormino

People living in Timbuktu walk past the Djingareyber Mosque, which is one of the many historic architectural buildings that led to the city being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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