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"Menaka was the last of the four MINUSMA bases scheduled for closure during the first phase of the mission's downsizing and definitive withdrawal from Mali, in accordance with the request of the transitional authorities."
On Thursday, a UN spokesman said that the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali completed the initial phase of its total withdrawal from the West African country.
According to Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the last convoy from the mission, known as MINUSMA, left the Menaka camp in northeastern Mali on Aug. 25, arriving in Gao Wednesday.
"Menaka was the last of the four MINUSMA bases scheduled for closure during the first phase of the mission's downsizing and definitive withdrawal from Mali, in accordance with the request of the transitional authorities," Dujarric said, adding that "the temporary base at Ogossagou was closed on Aug. 3, followed by Ber on Aug. 13 and Goundam three days later."
Dujarric also stated that El-Ghassim Wane, the special representative of the secretary-general and head of the UN mission in Mali, reported that the timely conclusion of this first phase of MINUSMA's drawdown plan is the result of sustained work by UN teams and good coordination with the Malian authorities.
The second phase of the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from Mali will be very challenging due to a tight calendar and dangerous security conditions, the UN special representative to the country said Monday.
"He added that with these base closures, we have reduced our geographical footprint in Mali by 25 percent, and we are determined to persevere with this momentum to conclude the withdrawal by the end of the year," Dujarric said.
"Transitional authorities" was a reference to the military junta governing Mali since an August 2020 coup, deposing President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.