Heightened tension not stopping MINUSMA withdrawal process

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Another step on the withdrawal road saw MINUSMA troops exit outposts in Mali’s Kidal that were supporting the reconstituted Malian Armed Forces (Forces Armées Maliennes).

The departing blue helmets are now in a MINUSMA camp in the same locality preparing for repatriation, a mission statement said.

Set up to reinforce the security perimeter around Kidal, including the MINUSMA camp and assisting in stabilising the region, the outposts were part of support to implement the peace and reconciliation agreement resulting from the Algiers Process.

With the adoption of United Nations (UN) Resolution 2690 on 30 June, following the Malian authorities’ request for the withdrawal of MINUSMA, the mandate to support the peace and reconciliation agreement ended. Since then, MINUSMA efforts have been redirected to withdrawal in the Security Council stipulated timeframe.

MINUSMA began the second phase of its drawdown plan on 1 September. This month (October), the Mission will proceed with closure of three camps in Douentza, Aguelhok and Tessalit.

MINUSMA and the UN Secretariat are determined to complete the withdrawal by 31 December at the latest, despite difficult security, logistic and other circumstances.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a weekend note “heightened tensions” in northern Mali are increasing the likelihood MINUSMA will depart without repatriating equipment belonging to troop contributing countries (TCCs) and the UN.  All parties, including government and armed movements’ signatory to the agreement are “obliged” to ensure “secure, safe and unimpeded withdrawal of Mission personnel and equipment”.

In the light of this, MINUSMA is “intensifying” its engagement with Malian authorities to convey concerns and “underscore” the host nation’s responsibilities for peacekeepers’ safety and security”.