Having come to present the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in that country, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali, El-Ghassim Wane, said he was “overwhelmed” by the plight of the displaced persons he met three weeks ago in Ménaka, in eastern Mali.
This region is the epicenter of clashes between the terrorist organizations Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS) and Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) for control of supply routes. On the spot, the head of MINUSMA was able to measure the “devastating” impact of the displacement of populations who begged him to give them drinking water.
With more than 30,000 people displaced towards Ménaka since the beginning of 2022 and around 2,400 other refugees north of the MINUSMA camp in Ménaka, the situation is “catastrophic”, according to El-Ghassim Wane.
In this increasingly complex environment, MINUSMA, “with its limited capacities”, continues to contribute to the protection of civilians, in coordination with the Malian defense and security forces, within a radius of 15 kilometers outside Ménaka. . In addition to their night and day patrols, there are reconciliation and social cohesion activities aimed at defusing growing inter-communal tensions in the region, noted Mr. Wane.
In addition to Ménaka, the Center and Gao regions remain areas at risk, with more than 61,000 people displaced since last year, again due to violence between EIGS and JNIM, as well as between EIGS and signatory movements of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, not to mention the ongoing armed clashes in the regions of Mopti and Ségou.
Under pressure from the Malian Defense and Security Forces, extremist groups there have increased their use of improvised explosive devices, while carrying out surprise attacks on several police stations along the main supply routes.
However, it is important, Mr. Wane observed, that the Malian authorities conduct their military operations in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights. The Special Representative was followed on this point by several members of the Council, in particular France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Albania, the latter correlating the increase in violations perpetrated by the Malian forces to their association with the group. Wagner.
Mali, on the contrary, considered that the violations were essentially the work of armed terrorist groups. Opposed like China to any “instrumentalization” of human rights “for political or destabilizing purposes”, the delegation rejected France’s accusations in the Moura massacre, committed a year ago. She retorted that the International Commission of Inquiry for Mali had blamed the French armed forces for abuses, in particular at Bounty, where a marriage would have turned “into a national tragedy”, which France disputed.
The Russian Federation, for its part, argued that the bilateral military aid it provides to Bamako responds to a request from the Malian authorities, who have thus been able to strengthen their counter-terrorism capacities.
To ensure the safety of its convoys, the Mission uses helicopters and drones along the resupply routes. However, approximately 24.1% of authorizations for this type of flight were refused, even though they are among the essential parameters for the execution of MINUSMA’s mandate: in addition to freedom of movement, “including for the means intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance essential to the safety and security of peacekeepers”, include the progress of the political transition and the progress made in the implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation, marked during the period under review by a “persistent paralysis”.
“Contrary to what is conveyed, there is no desire to restrict the movements of MINUSMA, because unauthorized requests did not respect the agreed procedure” with the host country, justified the Malian delegation, inviting the Mission to work more closely with the authorities in the future.
Term Expires in June
As the expiration of MINUSMA’s mandate approaches next June, several members of the Council therefore wondered about the relevance of modifying it, given its difficulties in fulfilling it. France and Albania have proposed to rely for this purpose on the internal review of the Mission conducted by the Secretary-General, whose recommendations, “if they were to be endorsed” by the Council, would allow MINUSMA to better meet the expectations of its first “customer”, namely the host country.
Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique called for increased troop numbers, strengthened counter-terrorism strategies, provision of air transport and the lifting of ground and air restrictions. For the United Kingdom, the Council will be faced in June with “difficult decisions”. In the absence of “visible signs” from the Malian authorities of a commitment to respect the parameters set by the Secretary-General, we must be ready to adapt and refocus the Mission’s mandate, examining any element risks to the credibility and reputation of the United Nations, underlined the British delegation.
This article is originally published on news.un.org