Almost half of UN peacekeeping troops in Mali exit

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MINUSMA/Gema Cortes – UN peacekeepers providing free medical assistance to isolated communities in a remote part of northern Mali.
MINUSMA/Gema Cortes – UN peacekeepers providing free medical assistance to isolated communities in a remote part of northern Mali.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, under danger from rebels, has completed withdrawal from half of its bases in the country, a UN spokesman said on Monday.

UN officials are keeping a wary eye on the progress made by a convoy withdrawing from Aguelhok in the northern Kidal region to neighboring Gao region – a journey of 550 km – in a deteriorating security situation, said Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The closing of the Tessalit camp on Saturday was the first camp closure in the Kidal region and occurred amid the deteriorating security situation endangering the lives of hundreds of uniformed and civilian personnel, said Dujarric.

On Saturday, the mission, known as MINUSMA, withdrew from Douentza in the Mopti region in the south, he said.

“With these developments, MINUSMA has now closed half of its bases in Mali,” said the spokesman.

Following a military coup, the transitional government of Mali requested the withdrawal of the 10-year-old operation. The Security Council complied with a June 30 resolution for the peacekeeping mission to be withdrawn by Dec. 31 of this year.

“The UN underscores the responsibility of the Malian transitional authorities for the safety and security of peacekeepers and calls on them to extend all necessary cooperation to facilitate the mission’s withdrawal,” Dujarric said.

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