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The last French convoy from Operation Barkhane, prepares to leave Gossi, Mali.

Reuters

The UN’s dangerous withdrawal from Mali

The UN this week laid out a timeline for withdrawing peacekeeping troops from the West African state of Mali – a mission that UN chief António Guterres has called “unprecedented” because of the vast logistical and security challenges.

Roughly 13,000 UN peacekeepers and police – and 1,786 civilian staff – will be out of the country by Dec. 31, with their infrastructure handed over to Mali’s military government. The withdrawal of UN forces, who’ve been in the country for a decade, is a huge development in a state long plagued by ethnic strife, poverty, and Islamic insurgents.

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What We're Watching: Argentina's abortion bill, Spain's vaccine registry, Burkina Faso's security push

Argentina's abortion debate: Argentina's Senate is set to vote on a landmark abortion bill that would allow elective abortions up to 14 weeks gestation, a major shift in the predominantly Catholic and socially conservative country. The abortion bill already passed the lower house of Congress (131 to 117 votes) because the center-left party of President Alberto Fernández, who backs the bill, holds a majority coalition. It's now waiting to be voted on in Argentina's upper house in what's expected to be a nail-biter, with several politicians remaining mum about how they intend to vote. Abortion is a flashpoint in Argentina, home to Pope Francis who has repudiated the bill, and if the law were to pass, the country would be one of just few Latin American countries to authorize elective abortions outside of cases of rape or if the mother's life is at risk. If there's a tie in the Senate — which some analysts anticipate — it will be up to Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who has flip-flopped on the abortion issue during her long political career, to cast the deciding vote. Abortion rights activists, meanwhile, are fired up, hoping that if the bill passes in Argentina, the cultural effects could reverberate throughout the region.

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Nigeria's struggles

The reports are horrifying. Bullets flying overhead as school-age kids scream out in fear. Chaos. Shrapnel. Hundreds go missing.

This was the scene last week when militants stormed a high-school in Katsina, northern Nigeria, to abduct hundreds of students, 400 of whom remain missing. It's a horror story reminiscent of the 2014 kidnapping of schoolgirls that prompted the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign championed by former US first lady Michelle Obama.

The attack, which has now been claimed by the militant group Boko Haram, comes just weeks after the brutal slaying of Nigerian farmers in Borno state by militants on motorcycles. (At least thirty of the victims were beheaded.)

Nigerians have grown increasingly furious at the government for not doing more to keep them safe. But what are the conditions that have allowed groups like Boko Haram and Islamic State cells to gain a foothold in Africa's most populous country and largest economy?

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