UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The military government in Mali has blocked many flights by the U.N. peacekeeping force in the West African nation and the U.N. has grounded all non-emergency flights since Friday, the U.N. said Tuesday.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the U.N. mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, is in talks with the military on new procedures for the U.N. to get clearance for its flights.
“At this point, all flights are grounded as we try to get clarification on these procedures,” Dujarric said. “They make it extremely difficult for the U.N. to fulfill its mandate.”
The 16,600-strong MINUSMA mission is the most dangerous of the U.N,’s 12 far-flung missions. Nineteen peacekeepers lost their lives in 2021. in Mali
Dujarric said countries have control over their skies but the U.N. wants to be able to operate where procedures to get clearances aren’t extremely difficult.
The 16,600-strong MINUSMA mission is the most dangerous of the U.N,’s 16 far-flung missions. Nineteen peacekeepers lost their lives in 2021.
Mali has struggled to contain an Islamic extremist insurgency since 2012. Extremist rebels were forced from power in Mali’s northern cities with the help of a French-led military operation, but they regrouped in the desert and began launching attacks on the Malian army and its allies. Insecurity has worsened with attacks on civilians and U.N. peacekeepers.
In August 2020, Malian President Boubacar Ibrahim Keita, who died Sunday, was overthrown in a coup that included Assimi Goita, then an army colonel. Last June, Goita was sworn in as president of a transitional government after carrying out his second coup in nine months.
The junta initially had agreed to hold a new election in late February but the military leadership said earlier this month it was delaying the election until 2026 because of deepening insecurity across the country, which will give Goita four more years in power.
West Africa’s 15-nation ECOWAS regional bloc imposed tougher economic sanctions on Mali in response, saying the transitional government had failed to make progress toward holding a presidential election as promised.