The United Nations is withdrawing 13,000 personnel from Mali, in what UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called an “unprecedented” move, following a request from the Malian military junta to vacate the country.
As Statista's Anna Fleck reports, Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told the United Nations Security Council in June that the UN’s peacekeepers had "become a part of the problem in fuelling intercommunal tensions." The UN has been given until December 31 to pull out its mission members, as well as to close its 12 camps and to hand over a temporary base to the authorities.
Mali has been under military rule since a coup in 2012, and has since experienced ongoing instability with separatist and jihadist rebellions. In 2020 and 2021 the country saw two more coup d’etats and in June 2023, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report stating that the Malian armed forces and foreign fighters - allegedly from the Wagner Group who had been brought in to fight jihadist groups - had killed dozens of civilians since December 2022.
The following chart shows that as of May 31, 2023, the Mali peacekeeping mission, formally known as the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, or MINUSMA for short, was the fourth largest of its kind, with more than 13,000 uniformed personnel stationed there. The mission that was established in April 2013 supported the now deposed elected government of Mali with the stabilization of the country. According to the UN peacekeeping platform, a total of 303 MINUSMA personnel have been killed in Mali so far, making it the second deadliest of the 12 UN missions currently ongoing. Only UNIFIL in Lebanon is more fatal for peacekeepers, with 329 deaths recorded.
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Three other UN missions currently rank higher in terms of personnel numbers, all of which are in Africa.
As the chart above shows, as of May 31, the largest of the group was the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) with nearly 17,000 personnel, which became operational in September 2014. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was the second largest with more than 15,000 personnel, followed by MONUSCO, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with around 14,600 members.