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Niger coup impedes withdrawal of UN troops from Mali: Spokesperson

Niger soldiers declare coup, hold President hostage. Image Source: IANS News

United Nations, Aug 25 : The situation in Niger has made the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from neighbouring Mali more complicated, said a UN spokesperson.

The current developments in the region are making an already complex operation even more complex. And the time frame is quite short, said Florencia Soto Nino, associate spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“So, obviously, we are looking at how these could affect operations.”

The UN Security Council decided in June to terminate the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and gave the mission six months — until December 31, 2023 — to complete its withdrawal, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Niger coup could have “a significant impact” on the withdrawal process in the sense that Niger is one of the routes for repatriating personnel and equipment, said the spokesperson.

“And obviously, when a country’s borders are shut down, we can’t do that. So alternate routes will need to be found. And this will inevitably lead to complications in the withdrawal process.”

Things are still in flux. So the world body is looking at all the possibilities in the region for now, she added.

The Security Council mandated MINUSMA in 2013, which has proved to be one of the deadliest UN peacekeeping missions, with more than 300 peacekeepers killed in the line of duty as of June 30 this year. The Malian authorities called for the mission’s withdrawal from the country after tensions grew between the government and the mission.

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