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Mali: with terrorists regrouping, Security Council urges full deployment of ‘blue helmets’

Chadian UN peacekeepers patrol a MINUSMA check point in Tessalit, North of Mali. Photo MINUSMA/Marco Dormino
Chadian UN peacekeepers patrol a MINUSMA check point in Tessalit, North of Mali. Photo MINUSMA/Marco Dormino

Mali: with terrorists regrouping, Security Council urges full deployment of ‘blue helmets’

Warning that terrorists and other armed groups appear to have reorganized “and gained some ability to operate” amid the already fragile security situation in northern Mali, the United Nations Security Council today called on all Member States to support the full deployment of UN peacekeepers in the country.

“The Security Council stresses the importance of achieving without further delays the complete operational deployment of MINUSMA [UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali] to stabilize key population centres and protect civilians,” the 15-member body said in a Presidential Statement, noting that the primary responsibility for securing the country rests with the Government.

The Mission would “continue to support the re-establishment of State authority throughout the country and the promotion of the rule of law and promotion of human rights,” the statement added.

Briefing the Council earlier this month, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the country, Bert Koenders, said UN Member States have pledged around 90 per cent of the authorized troops, personnel and equipment to MINUSMA – among them China, El Salvador and the Netherlands.

They should be on the ground by the end of spring, beginning of the summer, he said. The Mission currently contains 5,488 of the anticipated 11,200 military personnel; 71 out of 320 police officers; and 883 out of 1,120 Formed Police Units (FPU) elements.

The role of MINUSMA, as authorized in April when it took over from an African-led force, is “to use all necessary means” to carry out security-related stabilization tasks, protect civilians, UN staff and cultural artefacts and create the conditions for provision of humanitarian aid.

The Mission’s core task is to support the political process in Mali, in close coordination with the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

In today’s statement, the Council lent its full support to Mr. Koenders, urging him to use his good offices, in close coordination with the international community, to reach a comprehensive agreement ending the crisis.

Among those efforts, the Council called on Mali’s newly elected Government to meet with the groups in the North, as part of an effort to address the underlying causes of recurrent crises which have affected Mali, including governance, security, development and humanitarian challenges, and drawing lessons from past peace agreements.

Commending the Government’s initial efforts to launch a series of consultative events on the situation in the North, the Council “reiterates its call for an inclusive and credible negotiation process open to all communities of the north of Mali, with the goal of securing a durable political resolution to the crisis and long-term peace and stability,” the Council said.

The Council also stressed the need to ensure the “full, equal and effective participation and representation of women” at all levels and at an early stage of the stabilization phase, including the political process and the disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating of ex-combatants which is actively supported by MINUSMA.

Strongly condemning violations of international humanitarian law and abuses of human rights, among them incidents of sexual violence in armed conflict, including against children, the Council stressed that those responsible “must be held accountable.”

The Council urged the Government to continue cooperating with the International Criminal Court (ICC), and encouraged efforts to speed up the return of judicial authorities to the North of the country.