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UN says its withdrawal from Mali may delay due tensions in northern parts

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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 United Nations is gravely concerned about heightened tensions and the increasing armed presence in northern Mali, which are likely to impede the withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, said the press office of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday.

This situation also jeopardizes the air operations conducted by the UN peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSMA, to protect its drawdown and enable its withdrawal, said the office.

The United Nations reaffirms its determination to complete the withdrawal of MINUSMA by Dec. 31, 2023, as set by the Security Council, following the request by Mali for the withdrawal of the mission, it said.

The world body notes with deep concern that since Sept. 24, its logistics convoys have not been allowed to move from Gao to retrieve equipment belonging to the United Nations and troop-contributing countries (TCCs) currently in Aguelhok, Tessalit, and Kidal. This could adversely impact the mission’s ability to adhere to the stipulated timeline, it said.

Heightened tensions in northern Mali increase the likelihood of the mission being forced to depart without being able to retrieve equipment belonging to TCCs or the United Nations. This would prevent the United Nations from supporting other UN peace operations that need the equipment, said the office.

The United Nations underlines that all parties have the obligation to refrain from any action or statement that could jeopardize the safe and timely withdrawal of MINUSMA.

The United Nations also recalls Security Council resolution 2690 that calls on the transition government of Mali to cooperate fully with the United Nations during MINUSMA’s drawdown, withdrawal and liquidation, to ensure the orderly and safe withdrawal of the mission, and requests the transition government of Mali to fully respect all provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement until the departure of the final element of MINUSMA from Mali, the UN press office said.

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