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WHO doctor kidnapped in eastern Mali amid continued militant insurgency

Unidentified assailants in
eastern Mali have abducted a medical doctor working for the World Health
Organization (WHO), the UN agency said in a statement.

Dr Mahamadou Diawara was taken from his car on Monday in the
town of Menaka, located in an eastern region where militant groups linked to Al Qaeda and Daesh are active.

Assailants also attacked his driver but left him behind.

WHO “is working with local authorities to investigate the abduction and ensure our colleague’s quick return to his family,” the statement said on Tuesday.

Diawara was sent to Menaka at the start of 2020.

He has been
leading efforts to provide medical care to remote communities at
risk of violence.

Mali armed groups withdraw from 2015 peace deal

Two military coups and a failed UN mission

Mali is battling a rampant militant insurgency that hijacked a Tuareg rebellion in the north in 2012. The Tuareg are the majority ethnic group in the Kidal Region of northeastern Mali.

Militants have seized swathes of territory across the Sahel, a categorisation used for a group of countries comprising Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. 

Thousands of people have been killed and close to 2 million people have been uprooted, despite costly international efforts to quash them.

France intervened to help push them out in 2013, but the militants have since regrouped and spread across the Sahel and further south towards coastal West African states.

France and the UK decided to end their troop deployments with the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in November last year, six months earlier than planned.

The UK’s Minister of State for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, told parliament at the time: “Two coups in three years have undermined international efforts to advance peace. This government cannot deploy our nation’s military to provide security when the host country’s government is not willing to work with us to deliver lasting stability and security”.

In August last year, Germany, too, halted troops deployment “until further notice” after what Berlin called destabilisation of the region by Russian-backed Wagner group mercenaries. And earlier in March, Sweden that announced it would be leaving the MINUSMA mission altogether.

Russia delivers more warplanes, helicopters to Mali

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