Ansongo, located in the Gao region of northern Mali, witnessed the departure of Minusma (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) forces over the weekend of November 18-19, 2023.
The withdrawal occurred smoothly, marking the ninth base out of twelve that Minusma is relinquishing to Malian transitional authorities.
Unlike Kidal last week, Ansongo did not pose a challenge to the redeployment of the Malian army, as Malian forces were already present in the area not controlled by the Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP) rebels at the signing of the 2015 peace agreement.
Jointly, Malian soldiers and UN forces, primarily from the Nigerien, Burkinabè, and Senegalese contingents, secured the city and its surroundings. No jihadist attacks were reported against the last UN convoy leaving Ansongo on Saturday, despite the presence of Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) and the Islamic State in the region.
During its ten-year presence in Ansongo, Minusma emphasized various accomplishments, including the construction and equipping of the police station for the Malian police and the provision of fuel. Numerous projects directly benefiting the local population, such as water supply and electrification initiatives, were also undertaken.
According to Minusma’s figures, more than 8,817 military, police, and civilian personnel have left Mali to date, representing nearly two-thirds of the 13,871 individuals affected by the withdrawal.
Malian personnel employed by Minusma are not included in this departure count. The next step in the withdrawal process is the closure of the Mopti-Sévaré base in central Mali, scheduled for the first weeks of December. The Gao and Tombouctou sites, along with the Bamako headquarters, will enter a “liquidation” phase starting January 1.