Bamako (Agencies): The United Nations (UN) announced the completion of the withdrawal of its peacekeeping force from Mali on Sunday, marking the end of a decade-long mission in response to the request of the Malian authorities. International troops were deployed to Mali to protect civilians against separatist and Islamist groups, including Al-Qaeda.

The request to terminate the mission was made in June 2023 by the Malian authorities, citing a “failure” to stabilize the situation in the country, and it was unanimously approved by the UN Security Council.

“The UN operation in Mali is poised to complete its drawdown on Sunday following a decade of multifaceted efforts to support the West African nation and its people after Malian authorities requested earlier this year to end the mission by 31 December,” the UN said in a statement on its website.

The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was established in April 2013 amid political unrest following the 2012 Tuareg rebellion, leading to a coup and subsequent coups in 2020 and 2021.

Initially, the mission, comprising more than 15,000 personnel as of February 2023, aimed to “support the transitional authorities of Mali in the stabilization of the country and implementation of the transitional roadmap,” according to the UN. Later, the force specifically focused on “supporting national political dialogue and reconciliation.”

Despite criticism from the Malian government, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric argued on Saturday that peacekeepers played a positive role in maintaining regional security. Over the course of ten years, 311 UN personnel were killed, and more than 700 were injured in Mali.

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