Mali: UN Peacekeeping Mission Hastens Evacuation from Kidal Camp

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The UN base in Kidal stands as the last operational outpost of the MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) in the northeastern region of Mali. Originally scheduled to close by mid-November, the deteriorating security situation on the ground may expedite the departure of the remaining peacekeepers and personnel as early as next week.

In Kidal, on October 26, the UN Mission continued the evacuation of “non-essential personnel.” The local MINUSMA office may indeed shut down much earlier than initially planned. While the departure of the last blue helmets and remaining civilian staff was scheduled for November 15, according to our sources, the Kidal MINUSMA camp could close as soon as next week.

A source within the UN representation in Kidal clarified, “By the end of October, we will, in principle, no longer be here. The situation is becoming increasingly untenable for us.” This untenable situation is impacting the troop-contributing countries, for instance, Chadian national peacekeepers are struggling to secure the necessary authorizations from Malian authorities for troop repatriation. Consequently, they have decided to expedite their departure, and operations are already underway. The Guinean contingent in Kidal is also grappling with a similarly challenging situation.

Furthermore, UN mission fuel tankers stranded in Gao are a growing concern. A UN official in northern Mali revealed, “Without fuel, we risk being plunged into darkness swiftly.” Therefore, a proactive approach was deemed necessary. The evacuation of civilian personnel from the Kidal MINUSMA camp is ongoing.

The local UN administration acknowledges that with the accelerated departure in view, the volume of non-transportable equipment will exceed initial estimates. Explosives and ammunition will be disposed of, and office equipment is likely to be offered to the local civilian population.

If the safety of its personnel demands it, and following a precedent set in Aguelok, another town in northeastern Mali, the local UN representation in Kidal might depart without formally handing over its camp to Malian civilian authorities.

Soukaina Sghir

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