The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali has completed its accelerated withdrawal from three camps in the eastern Kidal region of northern Mali, a UN spokesman said on Tuesday.
The operation was carried out despite deteriorating security challenges, said Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The mission known as MINUSMA now turns its attention for the region to the administrative transfer of the camps to civilian authorities.
“The last convoy left the city of Kidal today (Tuesday), ending MINUSMA’s presence in the region,” Dujarric said. “Unfortunately, the convoy hit two improvised explosive devices since departing. There have been no casualties.”
He said a convoy of over 500 Chadian peacekeepers left Tessalit base on Oct. 21 and Aguelhok base on Oct. 23 and arrived in Gao after traveling hundreds of kilometers on an unsafe route. Four improvised explosive devices were triggered, inflicting minor injuries on four peacekeepers.
The spokesman said the Kidal withdrawal was particularly challenging due to the lack of flight authorizations, including for flights to protect peacekeeping operations.
“The United Nations reiterates its determination to complete the withdrawal of the peacekeeping mission from the country, except for the liquidation team, including the rear parties of contingents and its guard unit, by the stipulated date of Dec. 31 and we look forward to Mali’s full cooperation to this end.”
After the May 2021 military coup in Mali, the government ordered MINUSMA’s withdrawal after 10 years of peacekeeping and offering protection for civilians during militants’ raids in northern Mali.
The Security Council in June mandated MINUSMA’s withdrawal by year’s end.
The mission said that because of its hurried withdrawal during the worsening security situation, it was forced to destroy sensitive equipment belonging to troop- and police-contributing countries and the United Nations.
“This measure was taken as a last resort in accordance with UN rules and procedures, as the 200 trucks on standby in Gao since Sept. 24 had not been authorized to move to Tessalit, Aguelhok, and Kidal to collect the said equipment for shipment out of Mali,” MINUSMA said in a release.