Germany confirms it will withdraw troops from UN peacekeeping mission to Mali

Germany confirms it will withdraw troops from UN peacekeeping mission to Mali

The German government on Wednesday confirmed it will be withdrawing its troops from the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, citing tensions with the country's ruling military junta.

In a statement, Olaf Scholz's government confirmed that the nearly 1,000 German Bundeswehr soldiers currently deployed to the country would gradually leave over the next 12 months.

The decision to withdraw was first announced by Berlin at the end of last year. Germany has been part of in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali since 2013, and is currently its largest Western contributor.

Mali, which saw two military coups in 2022 alone, has been caught since 2015 in a spiral of jihadist violence that has spread across the Sahel. The violence in Mali alone has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 civilians and soldiers over the past seven years, according to NGOs, and has displaced some 2 million people.

With around 12,000 troops deployed, the UN mission in Mali has sustained 185 deaths as a direct result of hostilities, making it the deadliest UN mission of recent years.

Mali's military has distanced itself from the West since taking back control, and has turned toward Russia in particular as the Kremlin seeks to extend its influence across Africa.

To maintain pressure on jihadist groups active in the Sahel region, several countries want to strengthen cooperation with other countries, especially Niger, which is considered a more reliable partner than Mali.

Olaf Scholz's government has concluded that the conditions on the ground are no longer adequate to continue participating in the Mali mission, but it maintains that it is committed to peacekeeping in the western Sahel region, and decided last April to send 60 soldiers to participate in a new EU-led mission in Niger.

"Whether we like it or not, what is happening in the Sahel affects us," Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said today.

"This is why Berlin intends to remain in the Sahel region, and to reorient its commitment to security in Niger, Mauritania and the Gulf of Guinea states."