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Mali: UN Peacekeeping Mission, MINUSMA, Ends On June 30

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A peacekeeping mission that continued for a decade in Mali by the United Nations will end on June 30. Before the mission ends the Security Council will vote on a draft resolution according to which a force of 13,000 personnel will have six months to leave the West African country.

Mali’s military rulers have been fighting against UN forces for a long time. Mali’s foreign minister in June asked the force to depart “without delay,” which clashed with the anticipated conclusion of the MINUSMA deployment.

An operation that has been hindered by government regulations ever since Mali partnered with Russia’s Wagner mercenary force in 2021 would come to an abrupt end as a result. It is acknowledged that the UN mission was crucial in defending civilians from an Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.

Some experts worry that if the mission leaves Mali’s under-equipped army on its own with only 1,000 Wagner troops to face Islamists who hold large areas of terrain in the desert north and centre, the security situation may deteriorate.

After the gang attempted to organise an unsuccessful mutiny in Russia, their home country, on Saturday, Wagner’s methods have also come under scrutiny. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the group’s leader, said that the organisation had been given licence to function in Belarus.

The draft language stipulates that MINUSMA would have until December 31 to carry out an “orderly and safe” withdrawal, which the Security Council would then consider by October 30. Should it be necessary, the council might then “consider a revised timeline in discussion with Mali.”

Its primary duties would be to safeguard UN people, infrastructure, and convoys. UN personnel would receive medical evacuations from MINUSMA.

However, the proposed document would also give MINUSMA the authority, through the end of the year, and – whenever and wherever possible – in coordination with Malian authorities, “to respond to imminent threats of violence to civilians and contribute to the safe civilian-led delivery of humanitarian assistance in its immediate vicinity.”

The 15 members of the council are still debating the French-drafted resolution, but diplomats said no significant modifications are anticipated before a vote to accept it on Thursday. The resolution must have at least nine votes in favour and be approved without the vetoes of Russia, China, the United States, the United Kingdom, or France.

While support for MINUSMA has started to wane among Western nations since 2021, when Britain, Germany, and Sweden said they would withdraw their troops, Russia and China have long been considered as mission sceptics. Despite having a separate army in Mali, France withdrew it last year due to differences with the administration.

“Subject to the decision of the Security Council, the United Nations is ready to work with the Malian authorities on an exit plan for MINUSMA,” a UN peacekeeping spokesperson stated.

He said that there were ongoing internal debates.

Following the occupation of northern Mali by separatist rebels and terrorists with ties to al Qaeda, MINUSMA was established in 2013. The militants were forced to flee by French troops, but they later reassembled. Since then, Mali has developed into the hub of a violent movement that has spread throughout West Africa and compelled millions of people to escape.

MINUSMA is the deadliest ongoing combat mission for the United Nations, with more than 170 peacekeepers having died in conflict. Before Mali requested that it leave, the UN was supposed to extend its mandate for an additional year this month.

Mali’s military leaders, who entrenched control through two coups in 2020 and 2021, and civilians have chastised the army for not doing more to stop the killing.

The UN has repeatedly argued that constraints on troop and aircraft movements have prevented it from carrying out its mandate, including looking into claims that Wagner and Mali’s army have violated human rights; these claims are denied by both parties.

In conversations this year, numerous African countries stated that they wanted MINUSMA to continue and even expand the size of its troop force.

It has facilitated medical evacuations for Malian military, shielded militant-encircled cities like Gao and Timbuktu, and flown government leaders throughout the nation to prevent them from driving through combat zones.

The Algiers Accords, signed in 2015, is a peace deal that signatories now believe may not succeed. It has coordinated discussions between competing armed groups in the north and was assisting with the preparation of presidential elections that some hope will be successful next year.

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