Note to Correspondents – on Mali

9 Nov 2023

Note to Correspondents – on Mali

Our peacekeeping colleagues in Mali report that the ground convoy that left Kidal on October 31 reached its destination in Gao on the night of 7 November without further incidents. As we reported last week, the convoy, which traveled nearly 350 kilometers, encountered six IEDs along the way. A total of 37 peacekeepers required medical attention, and all have been discharged or are in stable condition.

One hundred and forty-three vehicles carrying 848 peacekeepers from Bangladesh, Chad, Egypt, Guinea and Nepal, as well as equipment, made up the convoy, which constituted the final elements of MINUSMA's accelerated withdrawal from Kidal due to the deteriorating security situation in northern Mali. The convoy departed without air support due to a lack of flight clearance from the relevant Malian authorities, increasing the threat to the safety of the peacekeepers. In addition to insecurity, bad weather and poor road conditions, which caused vehicles to break down, added to the challenges the convoy faced on its way to Gao. As a result of the delays, the convoy ran low on supplies, and had to be resupplied by air with fuel, food and other items three days ago.

The Mission keeps constantly adapting to evolving developments on the ground and to a number of logistical constraints beyond its control, driven by the overriding imperative of the safety and security of its peacekeepers. It does so in full transparency and impartiality, in accordance with the principles of peacekeeping.  

The departure from Kidal marks the closure of MINUSMA's eighth base out of a total of 13. Over the next weeks, the Mission will end its presence in Ansango in the Gao region, followed by Mopti, thus completing the second and final phase of the Mission’s withdrawal plan from Mali, as reported to the UN Security Council in August. The remaining bases of Gao, Timbuktu and Bamako, where MINUSMA is currently consolidating its presence, will be converted into liquidation sites and handed over to the Malian authorities once the liquidation phase -- that will begin on 1 January -- is completed. During the liquidation phase, only a small team will remain on site to oversee the orderly transport of assets belonging to troop- and police-contributing countries and the United Nationsand appropriate disposal of equipment belonging to the United Nations. The latter will either be repatriated or redeployed to other United Nations missions, gifted to the Malian authorities or disposed of through commercial sale, in accordance with United Nations regulations governing the closure of missions.

As the drawdown of MINUSMA personnel continues, half of the total number of 13,871 have departed Mali to this date. This week, the Chadian and Guinean contingents of the convoy that left Kidal are scheduled to leave Gao, to return to their respective countries.

The United Nations reaffirms its determination to complete the withdrawal of MINUSMA from Mali, with the exception of the liquidation team, including its guard unit and the rear parties of troop and police contributing countries, by the scheduled date of 31 December, and is counting on Mali's full cooperation in this process.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General.

New York, 9 November 2023