UN says French pullout from Mali will ‘impact’ peacekeepers

France’s planned military withdrawal from Mali is “bound to impact” the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the troubled Sahel state, the United Nations said on Thursday. 

Olivier Salgado, the spokesman for the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Mali, told AFP that the UN was studying the impact of the pullout and would “take the necessary steps to adapt.”  

Mali has been struggling to contain a brutal jihadist insurgency that first emerged in 2012, before spreading to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

MINUSMA — the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali — began its deployment to Mali in 2013.

It currently has about 12,000 troops in the country, according to its website.

The UN says the mission has suffered the most fatalities of any of its peacekeeping operations in the world, with hostile acts causing 154 deaths as of January 31.

Salgado told AFP that “there is bound to be an impact” on its operation in light of the planned French withdrawal, citing a “specific and complementary role” played by UN peacekeepers and French forces in Mali. 

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Thursday that he was withdrawing troops from Mali after a breakdown in relations with the nation’s ruling military junta.