LFrance has left Mali. The last French military base, located in the city of Gao, in the north of the country, was evacuated and handed over to the Malian authorities, noted the special envoy of the Point In the region. A press release from the French general staff announces the news: “The last detachment of the Barkhane force present on Malian soil has crossed the border between Mali and Niger. (…) This major logistical challenge was met in good order and in safety, as well as in total transparency with all the partners. »
Launched on February 17, 2022 by President Emmanuel Macron, the withdrawal from the country became effective on Monday after the departure of the last French soldier. In recent weeks, air and land convoys have been linked between the Gao base and Niger.
Pushed out by a hostile Malian junta, which came to power after two coups in 2020 and 2021, the French have gradually ended their operations in the country after nine years of uninterrupted presence. Kidal, Tessalit, Timbuktu, Gossi, Ménaka… One by one, the French rights of way on Malian soil were evacuated before the closure on Monday August 15 of the large base in Gao.
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Operation Barkhane, which succeeded Operation Serval launched in 2013, made it possible to fight for nine years against jihadist groups in the Sahel and to secure certain areas of Malian territory. But relations with the Malian state, which called on France for help in 2013, have deteriorated since the junta came to power, and anti-French sentiment has grown steadily in the country. Several dozen people demonstrated again on Sunday August 14 in Gao to demand an acceleration of the departure of the French military force Barkhane.
This withdrawal comes in the midst of an outbreak of violence in the Sahel. More than 2,000 civilians have been killed in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso since the start of the year, already more than the 2,021 recorded for the whole of 2021, according to AFP calculations from a compilation of the specialized NGO Acled. About 2,500 French soldiers will be kept in the Sahel, despite the departure from Mali, compared to more than 5,000 two years ago.