Note to Correspondents: MINUSMA withdrawal from northern bases

23 Oct 2023

Note to Correspondents: MINUSMA withdrawal from northern bases

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) completed its accelerated withdrawal of all troops and civilian personnel from its base in Tessalit on 21 October 2023. However, the mission is still concerned for the safety of a land convoy heading to Gao, a journey of over 550 kilometers. The departure from Tessalit marks the first camp closure of MINUSMA in the Kidal region of northern Mali, amid a deteriorating security situation endangering the lives of hundreds of uniformed and civilian personnel. On 19 October, for example, a MINUSMA aircraft was hit by small arms fire while landing at Tessalit; fortunately there were no injuries to the crew or major damage to the aircraft.

MINUSMA is also in the process of withdrawing from Aguelhok in the coming days. In Kidal, the Mission is closely assessing the situation, with a view to adjusting the plan for withdrawing from its base. The Mission is continuously adapting to the evolving developments on the ground and a host of logistical constraints beyond its control, driven by the imperative of the safety and security of its peacekeepers. It is doing so in full transparency and impartiality, in line with the principles of peacekeeping.

As previously reported, the accelerated withdrawal is resulting in the destruction of equipment, such as vehicles, equipment, ammunition, generators, and other assets, that should have been returned to Troop-Contributing Countries or redeployed to other United Nations peacekeeping missions, causing significant material and financial losses. The Secretariat has briefed the Security Council and troop-contributing countries on the situation, and the Government of Mali has been kept informed throughout the process.

Such losses could have been avoided if the 200 trucks, held in Gao since 24 September 2023 due to movement restrictions, had been allowed to leave for the Kidal region to collect and transport equipment from the three MINUSMA bases, as part of the Mission's overall withdrawal plan.

The UN underscores the responsibility of the Malian Transitional Government for the safety and security of peacekeepers and calls on it to extend all necessary cooperation to facilitate MINUSMA’s withdrawal. It calls on all parties to enable MINUSMA to carry out all phases of the withdrawal in a safe and orderly manner by 31 December, as per Security Council resolution 2690.  MINUSMA is fully committed to respecting this timeframe.

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