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20 Nov, 2023 13:31

UN closes another peacekeeping base in Mali

This comes as the global agency races to conclude its mission in the African state by December 31
UN closes another peacekeeping base in Mali

The UN has withdrawn peacekeeping forces from its base in Ansongo, in Mali’s northeastern Gao region. This is the second phase of a total halt of the organization’s mission in the West African country.

The camp, the ninth of 12 bases of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA), has been transferred to the Gao regional civil authorities, the UN announced in a statement on Saturday.

This closure... is part of the second phase of the withdrawal plan of MINUSMA, thus preparing the ground for its final departure on December 31, 2023,” the mission stated.

Mali’s military rulers, who took power in a coup in 2020, ordered the end of the MINUSMA mission in June, which was deployed a decade ago to support the national armed forces (FAMa) in the fight against Islamist insurgency.

The country, which has been embroiled in jihadist violence since 2012, also canceled military partnerships with its former colonial ruler, France, last year as relations deteriorated. French troops initially became involved at the request of Bamako in 2013 to respond to an offensive in the country’s north by ethnic-Tuareg separatist groups allied with an Al-Qaeda affiliate.

The evacuation of the UN bases, which had around 15,000 troops, has heightened tensions in the country’s north, with state security forces, rebels, and jihadists fighting for control. The separatist groups have been opposed to the UN handing over the military camps to the Malian authorities, which they claim violates a 2014 Algiers ceasefire agreement reached to end a cycle of Tuareg uprisings.

Last week, the government of Мali announced that it had liberated the northern town of Kidal, which had been under the control of separatist groups since 2014.

Prior to that, the UN announced in October that it was hastening the removal of troops from camps in the rebel stronghold Kidal region, citing a rapidly deteriorating security situation that posed a threat to peacekeepers’ lives.