Four Ivorian soldiers belonging to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
- It took a 9km-long convoy of UN peacekeepers a month to reach the city of Gao in Mali.
- They dodged six booby traps, which injured 37 peacekeepers.
- With half of the 13 000-strong force already out of Mali, eight out of 13 bases have been shut down.
A 9km-long contingent of 848 UN peacekeepers from
Bangladesh, Chad, Egypt, Guinea, and Nepal have successfully departed from
Mali’s volatile Kidal region and are now in the north-eastern city of Gao,
waiting to be repatriated back to their respective countries.
It took them a month to travel 350km on 143 military
vehicles, dodging six explosive devices along the way, the UN said in a note to
The explosives injured 37 “blue helmets,” as the
peacekeepers are nicknamed.
Luckily, there were no casualties.
The UN did not clarify who could have set the traps, but a
report by the Mali Defence Force, known by their French name Forces Armées
Maliennes, claimed “aerial
surveillance carried out on Tuesday, 7 November, and Wednesday, 8 November
2023, made it possible to identify terrorists in possession of two armoured
vehicles abandoned by MINUSMA in Kidal”.
Concerns have been raised that terrorists and armed groups
could take advantage of the security vacuum left by departing peacekeepers.
For the peacekeepers, it was not an easy journey; without
air clearance from Malian authorities, the convoy did not have air support or
even the privilege to fly.
Therefore, they had to do it the hard way.
“In addition to insecurity, bad weather and poor road
conditions caused vehicles to break down, adding to the challenges the convoy
faced on its way to Gao.
“As a result of the delays, they were running low on
supplies and had to be resupplied by air with fuel, water, and other
items,” said UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric in his address to the media
from New York.
Dujarric added the convoy’s arrival in Gao was “a
tribute to the amazing work that our peacekeepers do under the most difficult
It’s a tremendous feat to bring a convoy of some 800 people, 9km long, to relative safety, and we’re happy that, as far as we know, none of the peacekeepers were seriously injured.
With the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation
Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) having left Kidal, the operation has closed its
eighth base out of 13.
The second and last stage of the withdrawal plan will end in
the upcoming weeks when the mission leaves Ansango, which is in the Gao region
and then withdraws from Mopti.
MINUSMA will be handing over the remaining bases in Gao,
Bamako, and Timbuktu to Malian authorities under the “liquidation
phase,” which will begin on 1 January next year, a day after the departure
of the peacekeepers.
During the liquidation phase, a residual team from MINUSMA
will be on the ground to take stock of the remaining machinery that is set to
be returned to contributing countries or reassigned to other hotspots on the
Dujarric told journalists:
These assets will either be repatriated or redeployed with other UN missions, gifted to the Malian authorities, or sold in the market, in accordance with our relevant rules and regulations regarding the closure of peacekeeping missions,” Dujarric told journalists.
As per UN Security Council Resolution 2690 (2023), the
mission has withdrawn around 6 000 civilian and uniformed personnel from Mali
So far, half of the 13 000-strong personnel have left Mali.
In response to an uprising in the north and a coup in
Bamako, the capital of Mali, the UN Security Council created MINUSMA in April
However, Mali’s military junta in July terminated the
mission, which, since 2013, has seen 310 fatalities being recorded.
The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
Source link : https://www.news24.com/news24/africa/news/a-month-and-37-injured-later-un-peacekeepers-make-it-out-of-malis-volatile-kindal-region-20231109
Publish date : 2023-11-09 21:32:29