After ten years of operation, MINUSMA has officially closed its base in Ansongo. This closure represents the ninth of twelve mission camps to cease operations, as part of the second phase of MINUSMA’s withdrawal plan, paving the way for its final departure on December 31, 2023.
The base was handed over by Hawa Ahmed Youssouf, Head of the MINUSMA regional office in Gao, to the civilian authorities, represented by the prefect of Ansongo, Ahmed Ag Aklinine.
Since its deployment in 2013 in response to the security crisis exacerbated by the emergence of jihadist groups, MINUSMA has played a key role in stabilizing the Ansongo area. This includes securing the transborder road connecting Niger to Mali, vital for both the country and the region.
MINUSMA closely collaborated with the Malian administration and the Malian Defense and Security Forces (FDSM), particularly in capacity building for the protection of civilians and addressing the basic needs of the population through funding various projects.
To facilitate the return of state authority in Ansongo, MINUSMA undertook several projects, including building and equipping the Police Station. The provision of fuel also enabled the Gendarmerie and Police to conduct security patrols in the city. Additionally, the airstrip was regularly secured for humanitarian activities.
MINUSMA's investment of over XOF 818 million contributed to rehabilitating and equipping buildings for the FDSM, repairing dikes, and constructing vegetable gardens. Efforts also included providing drinking water, electrifying streets in Ansongo and other localities, reducing community conflicts, and improving the working conditions for the FDSM to better fulfill their sovereign duties.
These joint efforts by MINUSMA and the Malian authorities significantly reduced the presence of terrorist armed groups, leading to a noticeable decrease in incidents against civilians and the FDSM.
However, despite these improvements, the persistence of insecurity in the area remains a challenge, mainly due to the limited presence of national authorities and access constraints.
In handing over the camp to Prefect Ag Aklinine, Ms. Youssouf thanked the Malian administration and the people of the area for their support and collaboration. She also expressed gratitude to the Commander of the Niger contingent and his troops for honorably and professionally maintaining the camp for ten years. The contingent handed over a camp that was not only clean but functional. She also acknowledged the contributions of various police units from Burkina Faso and Senegal that served in Ansongo.
“This ceremony to hand over the camp is an opportunity to warmly thank the Niger contingent and all the units of the MINUSMA Force that, during their deployment in Ansongo, spared no effort in implementing our mandate,” stated General Pathak, Regional Commander of the MINUSMA Force in Gao.
Prefect Ahmed Ag Aklinine expressed his deep gratitude to MINUSMA and its staff members for their support and funding of projects benefiting the people, the Malian state services, and the FDSM.
In Bamako, General Mamadou Gaye, MINUSMA Force Commander, praised “the sustained efforts of the Peacekeepers who held the Ansongo base, a strategic lock for supplying the Gao region, including the far North. Maintaining the flow, security, and vitality of the main supply roads to the north of the country has been a true feat. It has also been crucial for the free movement of people and their goods.”
After Ansongo, MINUSMA will close its Mopti base in early December, before beginning the liquidation phase on 1st January 2024, encompassing the winding down of operations at sites in Bamako, Gao, and Timbuktu.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).