UN Mali peacekeeping mission closes shop

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The Malian capital, Bamako, yesterday (11 December) hosted a ceremony to mark the conclusion of MINUSMA (United Nations Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali), ending what was called ten years of service.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, addressed a noon briefing at UN headquarters in New York to mark the occasion.

The now ended peacekeeping mission in the landlocked West African country closed 10 bases, including its Mopti camp, which was transferred to Malian authorities on Friday 8 December. “Overall, 10 754 peacekeeping personnel out of 13 871 have departed Mali and the remainder will leave by the end of December, except for those involved in the liquidation process,” Dujarric said, adding this would start on 1 January.

At the Bamako ceremony, El Ghassim Wane, Mission Head and Special Representative for Guterres, thanked the thousands of peacekeepers, past and present, who served with courage and commitment. He expressed gratitude for international support throughout the lifespan of the mission to operational partners and member states who contributed troops and police over the years.

Acknowledging obstacles faced by MINUSMA and its limitations, Wane highlighted some successes, including supporting the 2015 peace and reconciliation agreement and ensuring respect for the ceasefire as well as emphasising peacekeepers’ role in protecting civilians from violent extremist groups across the northern part of the country.

Wane made mention of MINUSMA’s work to facilitate the return of State authority in central Mali by rehabilitating infrastructure to provide basic services and livelihoods for communities, as well as support to build capacity in national security forces.

Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, Atul Khare, paid tribute to 311 peacekeeping personnel who gave their lives in the cause of peace, including 174 killed in hostile acts.