Warning that terrorists and other armed groups appear to have reorganised “and gained some ability to operate” amid the already fragile security situation in northern Mali, the United Nations Security Council has 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 full operational deployment of MINUSMA (UN Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali) to stabilise key population centres and protect civilians,” the 15-member body said in a Presidential Statement, noting the primary responsibility for securing the country rests with its government.
MINUSMA 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% of the authorised troops, personnel and equipment to MINUSMA – among them China, El Salvador and the Netherlands.
They should be on the ground by the end of the northern hemisphere spring, he said. The Mission strength 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 authorised last April when it took over from an African-led force, is “to use all necessary means” to carry out security-related stabilisation tasks, protect civilians, UN staff and cultural artefacts and create conditions for provision of humanitarian aid.
The Mission’s core task is to support the political process in Mali, in close co-ordination with the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
In this week’s statement, the Council lent its full support to Koenders, urging him to use his good offices, in co-operation with the international community, to reach a comprehensive agreement to end the crisis.
The Council also called on Mali’s newly elected government to meet with 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, as well as drawing lessons from past peace agreements.
Commending the Malian Government’s initial efforts to launch a series of consultative events on the situation in the North, the Council repeated 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 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 stabilisation phase, including the political process and the disarming, demobilising, and re-integrating of ex-combatants 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 those responsible “must be held accountable”.