The United Nations has officially ended its decade-long peacekeeping mission in Mali after 10 years, responding to the government’s claim that the force was inadequate in addressing the escalating threat of violent extremism. This move marks the conclusion of the deadliest peacekeeping mission globally, with over 300 personnel casualties. The withdrawal comes as Mali grapples with persistent challenges from Islamic extremist insurgency since 2012.
Challenges in Mali
Mali, a landlocked West African nation, has faced significant challenges in containing an Islamic extremist insurgency that emerged in 2012. Despite a French-led military operation that ousted extremist rebels from northern cities in 2013, the insurgents regrouped in the desert and resumed attacks on the Malian army and its allies, including the UN peacekeeping force.
Government Request for Withdrawal
In June, Mali’s junta requested the departure of the UN mission, arguing that it did not it did not adequately address the country’s security needs. The French force had already left the previous year under pressure from the junta. The decision reflects growing concerns about the effectiveness of international peacekeeping efforts and their reception in regions facing security crisis.
The Human Cost
The UN mission in Mali has incurred a heavy toll, with more than 300 personnel losing their lives during the peacekeeping operation. The challenging terrain and persistent threat of violent extremism have contributed to the mission’s high casualty rate, making it the deadliest peacekeeping mission in the world.
Assessment of UN Mission
Maj. Gen. Mamadou Gaye, the commander of the 13,000-strong force, acknowledged the vast and difficult terrain in Mali but expressed confidence in the country’s security forces to handle the security crisis independently. Despite criticism from some quarters in Mali, Gaye highlighted the positive aspects of the mission, emphasizing its role in improving the capacity of Malian security forces.
Mixed Reactions in Mali
While some argue that the UN mission failed to bring stability, especially in the northern regions where rebels are actively fighting, others, like security analyst Mahamadou Bassirou Tangra, contend that the peacekeepers played a vital role in enhancing the capabilities of Malian security forces. Tangara sees the mission as a bridge between the national army and certain rebel groups in pursuit of peace.
Growing Concerns Across Africa
Mali’s decision to request the withdrawal of the UN mission adds to a broader trend of growing skepticism and resistance to peacekeeping operations in parts of Africa. Last September, Congo also requested the withdrawal of a UN mission attempting to contain violence in the country’s east. This raises questions about the future of UN peacekeeping efforts in the region and underscores the limited funds available for financing such operations.
Important Questions Related to Exams
Q1. Why did Mali request the end of the UN peacekeeping mission?
Sol. Due to perceived inadequacy in addressing the escalating threat of violent extremism and concerns about the mission’s effectiveness.
Q2. What milestone did the UN mission in Mali recently reach?
Sol. It officially ended its decade-long peacekeeping mission after 10 years.
Q3. Why did the French force leave Mali the previous year?
Sol. Under pressure from Mali’s junta.