The UN mission in Mali (Minusma) was slated to leave Mali by December 31, 2023. However, in a statement issued on October 14, the UN reported multiple obstacles impeding the scheduled withdrawal process.
One major obstacle is the inability to move UN mission convoys within the country. For the past three weeks, logistical ground convoys of Minusma and Chadian peacekeepers have been stranded in Gao. They are still awaiting government clearance to head towards the Kidal region for equipment repatriation. In Tombouctou, Minusma convoys are similarly halted due to Bamako’s request, according to internal mission sources.
Security concerns are rising among the peacekeepers. For instance, in Tombouctou, Malian authorities have forbidden UN soldiers from conducting ground protection patrols around the airport and Minusma base.
These actions are seen as a violation of the agreement between the United Nations and Mali. Furthermore, requests for reconnaissance flights to safeguard convoys and Minusma installations are consistently denied.
Adding to the challenges are new tensions in the northeastern region between the Malian army and the rebel coalition known as the Strategic-Permanent Framework for Peace, Security, and Development (CSP-PSD).
The situation began with the landing of two aircraft at Tessalit’s Malian airport on October 12. From the planes emerged a detachment of the regular army, the Fama, accompanied by dozens of fighters from the Russian paramilitary group Wagner. They headed for the Malian Armed Forces camp, located adjacent to the UN mission’s base.