Appearing before the Security Council on Friday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that the only way to prevent increased violence and instability in Mali is to tackle root causes such as grinding poverty; climate change and competition for resources; underdevelopment, and a fundamental lack of opportunities for young people.
Although the security situation in Mali is deteriorating, Mr. Guterres pointed to important steps taken in the last six months, to implement a stalled peace agreement signed by the Government and armed groups, in 2015.
These include the integration of over 1,400 former combatants into the Malian army; the establishment of interim administrations in all five northern regions; and the effective participation of women in the peace process.
I call on all national, regional and international actors to step up efforts to tackle the multiple threats facing Mali and the entire Sahel region - UN chief Guterres
The Malian Government has been seeking to restore stability and rebuild following a series of setbacks since early 2012 that fractured the country, including a military coup d'état, renewed fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the seizure of its northern territory by radical extremists.
Noting the launch of a comprehensive political and administrative reform process by the Government, the UN chief encouraged leaders in the north-west African nation to promote reconciliation and inter-communal dialogue, “aimed at inclusivity, strengthening resilience and creating social cohesion from the ground up.”
He also welcomed efforts by the Government to make the process as broad as possible, including political leaders across the spectrum, armed groups and movements involved in the peace process – both pro-Government and opposition – as well as experts and members of civil society.
Mr. Guterres urged all Malian parties to redouble their efforts, use dialogue to address their differences, and listen to the voices of Malian people, and called on the international community to continue its support.
Recalling the ongoing humanitarian challenges in Mali, where he visited restive areas north of the capital last year, the Secretary-General said that 2.4 million people in the country need food assistance, and that, in northern and central regions, there are just three health workers per 10,000 people. 800 schools are closed, and nearly a quarter of a million children have no access to education.
We 'cannot stand by' while Mali deteriorates
He praised the UN Integrated Strategic Framework adopted inside the country, international initiatives underway, such as the Sahel Allliance, launched by France, Germany and the European Union (EU), which aims to invest nine billion euros by 2022 across the vast region, badly effected by rising extremism, trans-national crime and economic instability.
Such initiatives are in themselves, “insufficient” he warned the Council, calling on “all to strengthen efforts to address the root causes of instability and insecurity in Mali through humanitarian aid and support for sustainable development, including programmes on climate change mitigation and adaptation.”
Mali’s recovery is “a test of the international community’s ability to mobilize in support of peace and stability. This is not a question of charity; it is one of enlightened self-interest. Security in Mali has an impact on the entire Sahel, which in turn affects global stability.”
We cannot stand by while the humanitarian situation deteriorates, development gaps increase, and security risks become unsustainable”, said Mr. Guterres. “I call on all national, regional and international actors to step up efforts to tackle the multiple threats facing Mali and the entire Sahel region.”