116 Senegalese peacekeepers bid farewell to Mali, marking their departure from the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission known as MINUSMA. This exit contributes to the ongoing withdrawal of troops, with the mission set to conclude in December.
The departure of the Senegalese contingent occurred late in September, bringing the total number of exiting soldiers to over 3,200. The largest portion of this withdrawal comprises 2,583 troops from troop-contributing countries. Following closely behind are 412 police officers from formed units, along with 184 individual police officers and 97 military staff officers. In total, as of now, 3,276 uniformed personnel, encompassing both military and police, have been withdrawn.
Three peacekeepers from Senegal were killed and five seriously injured after their convoy hit an improvised explosive device in central Mali, on February 21, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country and Senegal’s army said.
This ongoing phased withdrawal aligns with the directives of UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2690, which was adopted on June 30, 2023. The resolution explicitly calls for the cessation of MINUSMA operations and mandates a complete withdrawal by December 31, 2023. As the deadline approaches, it is anticipated that a more substantial contingent of MINUSMA staff will depart from Mali.
The United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has begun its exit from the country in accordance with a request made by Malian authorities to leave by December 31 of this year. MINUSMA has lost over 180 of its members to date. “To date, 2,680 members of t he MINUSMA Force and 596 members of the United Nations Police (UNPOL) have been repatriated, culminating in a total of 3,276 uniformed personnel departing the mission,” said MINUSMA in the statement.
“MINUSMA has, over time, bid farewell to 81 international staff, and 10 United Nations Volunteers (UNVs). This brings the total number of departed civilian staff to 91, and when combined with the military departures, the grand tally stands at 3,367 MINUSMA personnel having left the mission,” the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said.
The withdrawal process involves redeploying peacekeepers and essential equipment, as well as the formal restitution of camps that had been established across the nation over the past decade.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that the withdrawal isn’t limited to military and police personnel alone. Over time, MINUSMA has also bid farewell to 81 international staff members and ten UN Volunteers (UNVs). This cumulative departure has now reached a total of 91 civilian staff.
MINUSMA has successfully closed three camps at Ogossagou, Ber, and Goundam. These closures mark a significant step in the mission’s withdrawal plan, carried out in coordination with Malian authorities. The return of these sites to the state civilian authorities is a crucial component of the exit strategy, adhering to UN rules and regulations.
In June last year, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA), was left in urgent need of armed helicopters when Ukrainian peacekeepers left the country to join their brothers-in-arms in defending their country against the Russian invasion.
Late last year, Ivory Coast began gradually pulling out its forces and police from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The withdrawal comes after former colonial power France, and then Britain pulling out its 300 troops from the peacekeeping force. While in August 2022, France withdrew its troops which have been in Mali for more than a decade, after a dispute about Malian air space violations, and the presence of hundreds of Russian mercenaries from the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group.
Likewise, Germany withdrew after suspending its operations when the Malian government denied flyover rights to Berlins airborne forces. Last September, over 460 peacekeepers hailing from the Egyptian combat and convoy escort battalion of MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) left Gao, northern Mali for their country.
The withdrawal process reflects the evolving situation in Mali and the concerted international effort to transition responsibility for security to Malian authorities. As the mission concludes, the focus will shift toward consolidating the gains achieved during MINUSMA’s presence in Mali and supporting the nation’s ongoing journey towards lasting peace and stability.
As Mali prepares to assume greater responsibility for its security, the support of the international community will remain steadfast. The experiences and contributions of the departing peacekeepers, including the Senegalese contingent, will be remembered as an essential part of Mali’s journey towards a more peaceful and secure future.