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UK announces withdrawal from UN mission in Mali

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, The Queen's Dragoon Guards patrol in Mali. (Crown Copyright)

The UK will withdraw its contingent from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) early, Minister of State for the Armed Forces James Heappey announced on 14 November.

“The army will be issuing orders imminently to reconfigure the next deployment to draw down our presence,” he told parliament.

The British Army contributes a long-range reconnaissance unit consisting of about 300 personnel, which is based around the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment. This will be rotated for the Scots Dragoon Guards later this month, a senior UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) source told Janes.

The source said the contingent would “withdraw in good order before the previously planned date of December 2023. Detailed military plans have been prepared and we will co-ordinate with the UN and other key European partners to ensure that our approach is safe, measured, and efficient”.

Heappey blamed political instability in Mali for the decision. “Two coups in three years have undermined international efforts to advance peace. On my most recent visit last November, I met with the Malian defence minister and implored him to see the huge value of the French-led international effort in his country,” he said, referring to France's decision in February to end its military operation in Mali.

“However, soon afterwards, the Malian government began working with the Russian mercenary group, Wagner, and actively sought to interfere with the work of both the French-led and UN missions,” he added, noting that the Russian presence has been linked to human rights abuses and was counterproductive for stability.

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