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UN suspends regular flights in Mali: spokesman

By AFP
Mali A UN police officer gets out of an armoured car of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Mali MINUSMA during a night patrol in Timbuktu, on December 8, 2021.  By FLORENT VERGNES AFP
JAN 17, 2022 LISTEN
A UN police officer gets out of an armoured car of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Mali MINUSMA during a night patrol in Timbuktu, on December 8, 2021. By FLORENT VERGNES AFP

The UN mission in Mali has suspended all but medical evacuation flights in the war-torn country pending negotiations with Malian authorities, a United Nations spokesman said Monday.

The move follows the implementation of new procedures that coincide with operations with the Malian army, a source close to the MINUSMA mission told AFP on condition of anonymity.

In New York, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the world body was "currently in discussions with our Malian partners, on the new procedures they've put in place to approve UN flights."

"We are confident that a solution can be found as soon as possible which will allow us to resume the normal functioning of our services in accordance with our mandate," he said.

"In the meantime we've had to adjust to the new situation. This particularly concerns our regularly scheduled flights which have been temporarily suspended," Dujarric added.

The junta that seized power in Mali in a 2020 coup closed the borders to its neighbouring ECOWAS countries after the regional bloc shuttered its borders on January 9 as part of economic and diplomatic sanctions.

ECOWAS imposed the sanctions in response to Mali's junta refusing to hold promised elections next month, the military leaders instead saying they could remain in power for up to five years before returning civilian rule.

Since the borders slammed shut, questions have lingered about the movement of military aircraft entering or exiting the country from the West African nations.

MINUSMA as well as France regularly fly over the region as part of efforts to fight a grinding jihadist insurgency that has spread from Mali to several other Sahel countries.

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