UN peacekeeping chief concerned about Malian insecurity


After commending the “overall peaceful” climate in which the Malian elections were held in July, the United Nations peacekeeping chief said last week he is “extremely concerned” over increasing attacks by armed insurgents against a backdrop of continued delays in implementing the 2015 peace agreement.

Briefing the Security Council, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, noted positive developments, including the successful presidential vote which highlighted “political maturity of the Malian people as well as the commitment of political leaders to the democratic process”.

He regretted continued delays in getting interim authorities up and running, advancing the National Reconciliation Charter, implementing key institutional reforms – such as changes in the security sector or the constitution – and moving ahead with the demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration process.

Conflict in northern Mali started in 2012 and the security situation remains volatile with an increased number of incidents in 2018, in particular in the central parts of the country. Last week five peacekeepers from Chad were injured during attacks and MINUSMA has for many months now been the most dangerous place in the world to serve as a ‘blue helmet’.
“I want to share with the Security Council I am extremely concerned about the security situation,” Lacroix said, noting July, August and September were the deadliest months since the peacekeeping operation, MINUSMA, was established in 2013. Close to 300 civilians died in targeted attacks.

In addition to limiting humanitarian access, violence worsened living conditions of millions. According to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) about 5.2 million people – one in four Malians – are now estimated to be in dire need of assistance.

As the country prepares for parliamentary elections, Lacroix said this will be “a new test” to measure “cohesion of political leaders and Malian society and an important step for the consolidation of democratic institutions.”
“I call on government and the opposition to engage in constructive political dialogue, based on inclusivity, keeping in mind the national interest,” he said, adding he hopes the upcoming elections will provide an occasion to “build a more representative parliament by promoting candidacies of young people and women”.

He commended the composition of the new administration which, in line with Malian law, is composed of 30% women.