The Security Council today expressed concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in Mali, and called on all parties in the country to allow access to aid organizations to provide assistance to civilians in need.
The Security Council called on the parties “to allow timely, safe and unimpeded access of humanitarian aid to civilians in need,” according to a presidential statement read out by the US Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs, Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, at UN Headquarters today. The US holds the Council presidency for the month of April.
Two weeks ago, rebel Malian soldiers took control of the country and announced the dissolution of the Government led by President Amadou Toumani Toure. In addition, renewed fighting in northern Mali, between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, has uprooted more than 200,000 people since January, with the majority seeking safety in neighbouring countries and some 93,000 believed to be internally displaced.
Commending the efforts of the humanitarian organizations involved, the 15-member body called for “an increased mobilization of the international community to support humanitarian efforts” in the country.
While the Council members reiterated their earlier condemnation of the seizure of power, as well as their call for the immediate restoration of constitutional rule and the democratically-elected Government, they also took note of the mutineers’ announcement concerning the restoration of constitutional rule as of 1 April 2012.
“The Council expects the mutineers to take immediate steps to effectively implement this commitment and will follow developments closely,” the statement said.
The Council expressed concern at the risk posed by fighting to Mali’s world heritage sites. On Monday, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) urged warring parties to safeguard Timbuktu after reports that rebels had entered the site. Mali has three other world heritage sites beside Timbuktu: the Old Towns of Djenne, the Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons) and the Tomb of Askia.
The Council reiterated its support for the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States in promoting the return to full civilian authority and reestablishing constitutional order in Mali.
The 15-member body also said it was alarmed by the presence in the region of the terrorist group Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, noting that it could lead to further destabilizing the security situation in the country. In addition, it reaffirmed the need to uphold Mali’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.