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1 Jan, 2024 05:55

Last UN troops leave African country

The peacekeeping mission in Mali was terminated at the request of the local authorities
Last UN troops leave African country

The UN announced on Sunday that it had completed the withdrawal of its peacekeeping force from Mali, with the last soldiers to depart by the last day of the 2023. International troops were deployed to the African country a decade ago to protect civilians against separatist and Islamist groups, including Al-Qaeda.

The Malian authorities requested the termination of the mission in June 2023, citing the “failure” to stabilize the situation in the country. The request was unanimously approved by the UN Security Council.

“The UN operation in Mali is poised to complete its drawdown on Sunday following a decade of multifaceted efforts to support the West African nation and its people after Malian authorities requested earlier this year to end the mission by 31 December,” the UN said in a statement on its website.

The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was established in April 2013 amid the political unrest following the 2012 Tuareg rebellion that led to President Amadou Toumani Toure being ousted in a coup. The country has since seen coups in 2020 and 2021.

The original purpose of the mission, which included more than 15,000 personnel as of February 2023, was to “support the transitional authorities of Mali in the stabilization of the country and implementation of the transitional roadmap,” according to the UN. The force was later specifically tasked with “supporting national political dialogue and reconciliation.”

Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop, however, said last year that MINUSMA had lost the trust of the people and became “a part of the problem in fuelling inter-community tensions.”

Despite criticism of the mission by the Malian government, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric argued on Saturday that peacekeepers have played a positive role in maintaining regional security.

A total of 311 UN personnel were killed and more than 700 were injured in Mali over the course of ten years.