The U.N. peacekeeping mission to Mali, or MINUSMA, has temporarily suspended all flights after West African and EU states imposed sanctions that disrupted air and land transport.
MINUSMA flights were abruptly grounded Sunday night in what an email to staff said was a temporary suspension.
The email reviewed by VOA said “MINUSMA has to temporarily suspend all flights” and that staff would be informed “as soon as the Mission receives clearance from the government authorities” to resume flights.
Several regional airlines have suspended service to Mali due to sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States that stopped air and land transport between countries in the regional bloc, known as ECOWAS, and Mali.
After France backed the ECOWAS sanctions, which were imposed following a special summit in Accra, Ghana on January 9, national carrier Air France also suspended service to Mali.
MINUSMA normally operates flights within Mali in between Bamako and Mali’s central and northern cities, where there are several MINUSMA bases.
During a U.N. Security Council meeting on January 11, Russia and China blocked U.N.’s support for the ECOWAS sanctions.
A MINUSMA spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.