|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7095th Meeting (AM)
Continuing International Support Crucial in Helping Mali Avert Relapse
into 2012 Crisis Situation, Security Council Told
Mission Head Briefs Members as National, Regional Representatives Also Speak
With Mali at a crossroads, the international community should continue to support efforts to steer the country away from a relapse into the conditions that had given rise to the “unprecedented crisis” of more than a year ago, the senior United Nations official in the West African country told the Security Council today.
Briefing the Council on the situation, Albert Koenders, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said the real work was only just beginning. It remained fraught with risk, and “takes place in a volatile regional setting”, he added. In the coming months, Mali would need to tackle the root causes of the conflict, which first erupted in 2012.
A series of inclusive talks with communities in the north should be convened as soon as possible to form the basis for peace and reconciliation, he continued. Security-sector reform, as well as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, would then have to take place. The security situation remained tenuous, despite continuing efforts by the national defence and security forces, as well as MINUSMA. Terrorist attacks in Kidal had resulted in the deaths of both civilians and soldiers, while four “blue helmets” and two French journalists had also lost their lives.
MINUSMA was operating with far fewer assets than anticipated, he reported, pointing out that the Mission’s military component comprised 5,488 of the anticipated 11,200 troops; 71 police officers out of the anticipated 320; and 883 formed police units out of the expected 1,120. “It is, therefore, essential that the international community continues to back, without delay, efforts to accelerate the generation and deployment of remaining MINUSMA units in the north of the country.”
He said the humanitarian situation had improved considerably in recent months, citing programmes designed to target malnourished children and increase the availability of drinking water. Health-care centres and schools were also reopening. However, almost half a million people were displaced, and 800,000 in need of immediate food assistance. Another 2.4 million people were moderately food-insecure, and their situations could worsen during the upcoming lean season. To date, the 2013 Consolidated Appeal for Mali had raised only 55 per cent of the targeted amount, he noted, emphasizing that the donor conference scheduled for Brussels in early February would be an important milestone for Mali.
Mr. Koenders went on to emphasize that foreign assistance must be aligned with Mali’s priorities in the context of stronger national leadership and the start of an inclusive dialogue on peace. “We must ensure that the international community fulfils its pledges. At the same time, it is not about providing a blank cheque.” As for the wider region, the challenges facing the Sahel could not be tackled in isolation, he stressed. The Secretary-General’s early-November visit alongside top-level officials from the African Union, European Union, World Bank and the African Development Bank was a positive step, and enhanced coordination among regional and international partners, including international financial institutions, was crucial.
Following the briefing, Sékou Kassé ( Mali) told the Council that significant changes had taken place in his country since the Secretary-General’s first report on the situation, dated 16 October 2013. On the political front, transparent and credible presidential and legislative elections had been held, and the Government had carried out a number of activities aimed at promoting decentralization, national reconciliation, development of the northern regions and good governance, among other objectives.
In the context of decentralization, he said the Government had recruited more than 10,000 teachers and 2,400 health workers to fill vital human-resource gaps, while meetings held in October had sought to establish institutional mechanisms for determining the powers of decentralized communities. Meetings had been organized in the north during early November to facilitate an exchange of views on all issues of concern, with the goal of laying the foundation for changing mindsets and engaging armed groups and all other actors in the north.
Noting that security conditions had deteriorated considerably in recent months, amid asymmetric attacks by gangs against civilians, he said MINUSMA must be afforded adequate means to carry out its mandate, the keystone of which was re-establishing the State, including in the Kidal region. He took issue with a reference in the Secretary-General’s latest report, which stated that the Malian Armed Forces had fired upon demonstrators in Kidal on 28 November.
Youssoufou Bamba (Côte d’Ivoire), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said that Mali’s transparent presidential and legislative elections had irreversibly re-established constitutional order in the country. However, the “ground game” must be consolidated with progress on the security, human rights and humanitarian fronts. ECOWAS had helped the Government prepare the recent elections, and the first and second rounds had been held in November and December, as planned.
On the humanitarian front, he cited a 27 November report by the Commission on Population Movements which recorded a drop in the number of internally displaced persons from October 2013. That decrease held true for the whole country, except Kidal, where insecurity still prevailed. Refugee returns were accelerating, with only 185,000 remaining in neighbouring countries, he said, recalling that ECOWAS had deployed 20 humanitarian observers in November, in cooperation with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The human rights situation was also improving, thanks to Government efforts to combat impunity, he said, citing the arrest of 2012 coup leader General Amadou Sanogo.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 10:40 a.m.
* *** *