German Troops Begin Withdrawal from Gao as UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali Winds Down

German Troops Begin Withdrawal From Gao As Un Peacekeeping Mission In Mali Winds Down

The withdrawal of German troops from Gao, Mali, has commenced as the United Nations (UN) undertakes the dismantling of its peacekeeping mission in the country by the end of this year. Starting on Tuesday, personnel stationed at Camp Castor, which supports the activities of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), began disassembling and transporting their equipment back to Germany.

This move aligns with the UN Security Council’s decision in June to conclude the decade-long peacekeeping mission in Mali. The military junta in Mali, which has recently aligned itself with Russia, had urged the removal of foreign troops from the country. The junta’s cooperation with Russia also included the involvement of the Wagner Group.

Mali’s relationship with the United Nations has significantly deteriorated since a military coup in 2020 brought a military regime to power, which subsequently severed defence cooperation with France, its former colonial power. As per the long-standing UN protocol, the host country’s approval is required for a peacekeeping mission to be established.

As of the end of November, the UN mission had dismantled nine of the twelve MINUSMA bases in Mali. MINUSMA has been deployed in the country since 2013 to support the nation’s security against jihadist rebels affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, as well as a separatist uprising led by the Tuareg people.

The withdrawal of German troops signifies another step towards the conclusion of the UN peacekeeping mission. The process of dismantling bases and transporting equipment back to respective countries is a complex endeavour that requires careful coordination to ensure the safety of personnel and the preservation of peace and security in the region.

The UN and its partners, including Germany, remain committed to working closely with the Malian government to facilitate a smooth transition and support the country’s efforts towards long-term stability. The conclusion of the peacekeeping mission marks a significant milestone in Mali’s trajectory, highlighting the need for continued international cooperation and support to address the remaining challenges faced by the nation.

As the UN mission in Mali winds down, the focus will shift towards strengthening the capacity of the Malian security forces and promoting sustainable development in the country. The international community will continue to monitor the situation in Mali closely and explore avenues for collaboration to ensure lasting peace and prosperity for its people.


Source: Africa News

Air France Resumes Mali Route with Third-Party Plane and Crews Amid Security Concerns

Air France has announced that it will resume flights to Mali starting Friday, using a plane and crews from a third-party company. The airline had suspended its Mali route in early August following the coup in neighbouring Niger.

In coordination with the French Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) and Malian authorities, Air France spokesperson confirmed that service to Bamako from Paris-Charles de Gaulle will recommence on October 13, 2023. The company is also working closely with Burkinabè authorities to resume flights to Burkina Faso as soon as possible. However, service to Niamey, Niger, remains suspended until further notice.

Flights between Paris and Bamako will operate three times a week (Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays) using a Boeing 777-200 ER aircraft provided by the Portuguese company EuroAtlantic Airways. The flights will no longer be operated by Air France’s own planes. The crew will also consist of employees from EuroAtlantic Airways, which specializes in regular flights as well as rental and charter services.

Air France assures that the aircraft provided by EuroAtlantic Airways complies with all French and European regulations. It is equipped with 30 seats in the Business cabin, 24 seats in the Premium Economy cabin, and 239 seats in the Economy cabin. The onboard services will be the same as those offered on Air France-operated flights. Passengers whose flights are cancelled will be rebooked on available flights or provided with the option to modify their reservation free of charge.

The decision to use a third-party company and crew for this connection is due to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs “formally” advising against French citizens traveling to Mali, including airline crew, due to the tense security situation. In March, Air France’s pilots’ union called on its members to exercise their right of withdrawal if they did not wish to fly to Bamako.

Security concerns have been raised by various authorities. The American federal agency overseeing aviation (FAA) cited an “increased risk” for commercial aircraft overflying or serving Mali due to the installation of anti-aircraft missile batteries by the Russian mercenary group Wagner. Following Air France’s suspension of the Paris-Bamako route, Malian authorities revoked the company’s authorization to operate the line, considering it a breach of the operating authorization.

Tensions between France and Mali have escalated since the military took control in Bamako in August 2020. The junta expelled French forces in 2022 and shifted its political and military alliances towards Russia. This strained relationship has impacted air travel between the two countries.

Air France emphasizes that the safety of its customers and crews is its top priority and closely monitors the geopolitical situation in the areas it serves and flies over.


Source: Africa News