With its departure from Ménaka, United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) completes the first phase of its exit plan from Mali
The last of the MINUSMA convoys, which left the Ménaka camp in northeastern Mali on August 25, 2023, arrived in Gao on Wednesday, August 30, 2023.
Ménaka is the last of the four MINUSMA outposts to be closed during the first phase of the Mission's drawdown and final withdrawal from Mali, as requested by the transitional authorities and UN Security Council Resolution 2690 of 30 June 2023. The temporary base in Ogossagou was closed on 3 August, followed by Ber on 13 August and Goundam three days later.
In accordance with the agreed procedure, MINUSMA's departure from Ménaka was preceded by an official ceremony on 25 August, during which the Head of the Mission's office in Ménaka and the Governor of the region, as the designated civilian authority, signed documents attesting to the good condition of the camp occupied by MINUSMA, including a description of the infrastructure there, and to the Mission's compliance with its environmental obligations. The formal restitution of this camp to the Malian State marks the end of MINUSMA's presence in the Ménaka region and of the responsibilities assigned to it to date.
In the weeks and days leading up to the Mission's withdrawal from Ménaka, an extensive awareness-raising campaign was conducted, targeting both the authorities and various other stakeholders, including civil society actors, on the role of the Blue Helmets in protecting civilians and stabilizing the security situation. The aim was to facilitate, as far as possible, an effective transfer of tasks to the Malian authorities.
The regional office in Ménaka was opened in 2017. Initially staffed only by a trained police unit, the office will gradually be reinforced by the deployment of Niger peacekeepers. This enhanced presence was to better support the implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation resulting from the Algiers Process, as well as better address the protection needs of the civilian population and facilitate the restoration of State authority.
In response to the worsening security situation, particularly since March 2022, MINUSMA stepped up its operations in the locality, notably through the deployment of additional peacekeepers from the Mission's base in Ansongo, in the Gao region, and the mobilization of additional resources, including air capabilities. Coordination with the Malian Defense and Security Forces was also strengthened, with joint patrols involving the Malian police and the Togolese formed police unit in Ménaka.
These measures have undoubtedly helped to ensure relative stability and security in Ménaka, where most displaced people fleeing violence in the rest of the region have gathered. A total of 78,500 IDPs arrived in Ménaka between March 2022 and the first quarter of 2023. In in response to the massive influx of IDPs to Ménaka in March 2022, MINUSMA, in cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, provided shelter to thousands of them. In March 2023, following the violence in the Tidermene Circle that led to the arrival of thousands of additional people in Ménaka, MINUSMA, through the Niger peacekeepers, provided emergency drinking water to these populations as a temporary measure.
In support of stabilization efforts in the Ménaka region, MINUSMA has financed a total of 38 projects for a cumulative amount of approximately 4 billion CFA francs as of the end of June 2023. This support has covered areas as diverse as promoting social cohesion and reconciliation, health and access to water, capacity-building and income-generating projects, particularly for women and young people.
The Mission has also supported efforts to re-establish State authority. In this regard, and in accordance with the UN's human rights due diligence policy, multi-faceted support has been provided to the Malian security forces, including training and equipment, transport and fuel assistance, and the construction of infrastructure. MINUSMA has also rehabilitated and equipped the courthouse, the Ménaka reformatory and the prefecture. It has contributed to a number of other related activities, including logistical support for the deployment of government officials in the Ménaka region.
“The timely completion of this first phase of our drawdown plan is the result of sustained work by MINUSMA teams and good coordination with the Malian authorities,” said El-Ghassim Wane, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of MINUSMA. “With these closures, we have reduced our geographical footprint in Mali by 25 per cent, and we are determined to maintain this momentum to complete our drawdown by 31 December 2023, despite the various challenges that need to be overcome for the second phase of the Mission's drawdown plan,” he continued.
The Special Representative also praised the commitment of the Niger and Togolese peacekeepers stationed in Ménaka, noting that “their sense of duty has been remarkable in all respects.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).