The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusma) continues its operations to close its camp in the town of Kidal in the northeast. While it is set to leave Mali entirely on December 31 for security reasons, the camp in Kidal is scheduled to close on Monday, October 30, or Tuesday, October 31. However, the mission still faces numerous challenges.
The Malian Army’s Air Operations Coordination Center made a significant gesture: it authorized some flights of Minusma helicopters between Kidal and Gao. This allowed a portion of the UN mission’s civilian personnel to be evacuated again. Nonetheless, many are still awaiting their departure from this city in northeastern Mali.
Unless there is a last-minute change, the camp will be closed by October 31 at the latest. The question remains: what to do with the remaining civilian and military personnel on-site? UN peacekeepers have a plan, involving the formation of a lengthy ground convoy from Kidal to Gao, the primary city in northern Mali. However, this plan comes with risks, including potential jihadist attacks and the threat of landmines.
Following the departure of UN personnel, controlling the vacant camp will become a significant concern. Former rebels, grouped within a coalition known as CSP-PSD, aim to prevent the Malian military from taking control of the site. Regular troops, supported by the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, are stationed about 100 kilometers away in Anefis, as well as in the town of Tessalit. Confrontations are far from unlikely. The situation in Kidal remains tense and complex, demanding careful management.