MINUSMA drawdown on track

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The closure of the last of MINUSMA’s four outposts in Mali – Ménaka – marks yet another successful part of the mission’s drawdown and final withdrawal from the West African country set for end-December this year.

The temporary base in Ogossagou was closed on 3 August, followed by Ber on 13 August and Goundam three days later with Ménaka coming at month-end. The final Ménaka convoy arrived safely in Gao, 950km from the Malian capital Bamako.

The formal restitution of this camp to Mali marks the end of MINUSMA’s presence in the Ménaka region and of the responsibilities assigned to it to date a mission statement said.

In the lead-up to the Ménaka withdrawal, an extensive awareness campaign targeting authorities and other stakeholders, including civil society, on the role of the blue helmets in protecting civilians and stabilising the security situation. The aim was to facilitate, as far as possible, an effective transfer of tasks to the Malian authorities.

The regional office in Ménaka was opened in 2017. Initially staffed only by a trained police unit, the office was gradually reinforced by Niger peacekeepers. This enhanced presence better supported implementation of the agreement for peace and reconciliation resulting from the Algiers Process, as well as addressing civilian protection needs and facilitating restoration of State authority.

In response to the worsening security situation, particularly since March 2022, MINUSMA stepped up operations in the area, notably through deployment of additional peacekeepers from the Mission’s base in Ansongo, in the Gao region and mobilisation of additional resources, including air capabilities. Co-ordination with the Malian Defence and Security Forces was strengthened, with joint patrols involving the Malian police and the Togolese formed police unit in Ménaka.

These measures helped ensure relative stability and security in Ménaka, where most displaced people fleeing violence in the region gathered. Seventy-eight thousand five hundred IDPs (internally displaced persons) arrived in Ménaka between March 2022 and the first quarter of 2023. In in response to this influx MINUSMA with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, provided shelter to thousands. This March following violence in the Tidermene Circle that saw thousands more IDPs coming to Ménaka, MINUSMA, through Nigerien peacekeepers, provided emergency drinking water to these populations as a temporary measure.

In support of stabilisation efforts in Ménaka, MINUSMA financed 38 projects for a cumulative amount of approximately 4 billion CFA francs as of the end of June. Support covered social cohesion and reconciliation, health and access to water, capacity building and income generating projects.

MINUSMA supported efforts to re-establish State authority. In accordance with the UN human rights due diligence policy, multi-faceted support was provided to the Malian security forces, including training and equipment, transport and fuel assistance and infrastructure construction.

“The timely completion of the first phase of our drawdown plan is the result of sustained work by MINUSMA teams and co-ordination with Malian authorities. The closures have reduced our geographic footprint by 25%,” El-Ghassim Wane, UN Secretary-General Special Representative and Head of MINUSMA, said