UN peacekeepers in Mali did not "desert" their positions

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Chadian UN peacekeepers in Mali. UN Photo/Marco Dormino (file photo)

Thirty UN peacekeepers who left their base in Northern Mali were not deserting their positions, according to the UN Mission in the country, MINUSMA.

The Chadian soldiers, stationed with 140 other peacekeepers in Aguelhok near the embattled city of Kidal, were frustrated by the living conditions at their camp as well as issues regarding delayed payments.

On 25 November they decided to leave in order to raise their grievances with the Deputy Force Commander of MINUSMA and representatives of the Chadian armed forces.

Radhia Achouri, spokesperson for MINUSMA, says the situation has been resolved, and the term "desertion" by some media sources to describe the event is not appropriate.

” The fact of the matter is that these 30 soldiers decided to bring this issue to the attention of the decision makers. So I would not call it mutiny, I would not call it desertion. Of course, it would have been better if they proceeded differently, but the situation has been what it is. They brought their grievances to the attention of the leadership of MINUSMA and the leadership of Chad."

Ms Achouri added that the soldiers are expected back on Friday or Saturday at the latest.

The UN has been supporting Mali to recover from a political crisis caused by a coup d'état in early 2012.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1'21"

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