UN peacekeeping forces to leave Mali prematurely over violence

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Forces of the UN Peacekeeping mission in Mali receive their blue berets in Bamako. Photo: MINUSMA/Blagoje Grujic
Photo: MINUSMA/Blagoje Grujic

UN peacekeepers are speeding their withdrawal from the Ber base near Timbuktu, Mali, because of a deteriorating security situation, a UN spokesman said on Monday.

Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the peacekeepers from the mission known as MINUSMA notified the Malian authorities they were leaving a day early because of risks to the safety and security of UN personnel.

“The mission reported two attacks yesterday (Sunday) on a convoy carrying personnel and equipment from the base at Ber to Timbuktu, resulting in four Burkinabe peacekeepers suffering injuries,” Dujarric told reporters at a regular briefing. The injuries are not life-threatening.

He said the United Nations condemns the attacks and calls on all parties to ensure safe movement for peacekeepers throughout their withdrawal from the country, scheduled for completion by the end of this year. The mission plans to hand over bases and previously mandated responsibilities to the Malian authorities, the UN Country Team and the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel.

“As a rule, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali can only transfer its facilities to the Malian state,” he said. “In this context, the United Nations is negotiating with the Malian authorities a draft agreement that will govern transfer of UN peacekeeping camps.”

The spokesman added that whenever MINUSMA departs a camp, the designated representative of the Malian authorities is to attest to the state of the base and the facilities and confirm that the global body has fulfilled its environmental obligations.

The spokesman said he did not have details on what might be handed over, adding “I can tell you that what we own and can take we’ll take. If there are things that are handed over it will be clearly noted that they are handed over, whether it’s desks or chairs. But, obviously, all contingent-owned equipment, weapons and all of that, will leave.”

He was referring to the equipment owned by the contingent-countries’ forces assigned to MINUSMA.

In June, the Security Council agreed to a request from Mali to end the peacekeeping mission assigned to protect Malians from violent jihadist raids coming out of the desert. The mission was established by council mandate in 2013.

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