Following a unanimous vote by the United Nations Security Council, June 30 will be the final day of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, succinctly known as MINUSMA.
The force at its height consisted of 13,289 military personnel and 1,920 police and had been deployed to the central African nation since April 2013 when it was requested by the then government of Mali. During this decade of service in the country, MINUSMA lost 187 service members from various countries.
The military junta currently in power demanded their withdrawal on June 16, 2023, stating that there was a “crisis of confidence” between the military authorities and the leadership of MINUSMA.
Malian authorities and public figures have recently claimed that MINUSMA’s presence has been more the problem than the solution. They largely blame the UN for failing in their mission to protect civilians or even respond after massacres occur, leaving much of the nation’s rural area under the control of anti-government rebel forces.
Colonel Assimi Goïta, the interim President of Mali since seizing power in 2021, initially demanded that the UN troops do more to combat the actions of these forces. However, the UN largely left the fighting to France’s units under Operation Barkhane, tasking its MINUSMA troops with humanitarian relief, security, and establishment of basic services.
Paris opted to cease this operation in August of 2022 due to Bamako’s decision to allow Russian paramilitary fighters into the country, reportedly to assist with halting the anti-government forces in its remote northern regions where locals largely rely on foreign intervention for their security rather than the country’s own security forces.
Mali’s government assistance from Russia’s Wagner PMC paramilitary group has sparked friction with European and American officials. Additionally, UN human rights groups have claimed that the Russian mercenaries are responsible for extrajudicial killings and ransacking of the country’s natural resources.
In particular, the UN cited that 500 civilians had been killed in March 2022 around the village of Moura, blaming the Malian armed forces and “foreign” fighters, alluding to the involvement of Wagner. Bamako responded with threats of legal action against the UN investigation team, lying the final straw for the dissolution of relations between the two.