Withdrawal of peacekeepers from Mali a delicate issue


UN Mali peacekeepers. Photo supplied

from RUDD KONTE in Bamako, Mali
Mali Bureau
BAMAKO, (CAJ News) – THE withdrawal of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is feared to cause a severe deterioration of the security, humanitarian and human rights situation in the West African country.

The withdrawal is forecast to lead to significant harm to civilians in a country battling an insurgency by Islamists.

“The protection of civilians should be a preeminent consideration when determining how, when, and where to draw down UN peacekeepers,” said Wendy MacClinchy, CIVIC’s Interim Senior Director of Advocacy.

“We strongly recommend that MINUSMA establish protection of civilian benchmarks to inform the sequencing of its transition, taking into account persisting threats against civilians and the capacity of other actors to protect them.”

MINUSMA was created in 2013 to support the political process in Mali and help the country to restore peace and stability.

It began drawing down its presence on July 1. Complete withdrawal is set for January 1 in 2024.

MacClinchy noted even if the departure of MINUSMA was occurring at a time of extreme fragility in the Sahel region, actions can be taken to prevent chaotic disengagement.

“That’s why the UN and Security Council should apply the hard-learned lessons of past peacekeeping transitions to the upcoming MINUSMA withdrawal,” the CIVICUS official said.

Consultations have begun to determine the exit plan of MINUSMA.

A MINUSMA delegation led by El-Ghassim Wane, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, has met the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdoulaye Diop.

Several mechanisms will be put in place at the technical and political levels, with representatives from Mali and MINUSMA, to deal with the different aspects of the process, including the withdrawal of civilian and uniformed personnel, the transfer of tasks, logistics, security and strategic communication.

Wane said MINUSMA and the UN are determined to ensure the realization of the withdrawal plan within the deadlines which have been stipulated.

“For this we will need the accompaniment and support of the Malian State,” the envoy appealed.

“This first meeting illustrates this strong desire to move forward. Executing this exit plan is going to be a lot of work. We need to work closely together.”

Malian authorities have pledged to take necessary measures to facilitate urgent requests from MINUSMA.

“There are a lot of things to do in a short time, which will require the mobilization of our teams to be able to respond promptly,” Diop said.

“We have agreed on what needs to be done and on the timetable that we must draw up immediately in order to be able to achieve this withdrawal at the indicated period of 31 December 23,” the minister said.

– CAJ News

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