As crisis deepens in Mali, UN envoy says “all is not lost”

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The UN special representative for Mali told the Security Council on Friday that despite collective efforts, “the reality is that the security situation has deteriorated and the crisis is worsening” in the country of ‘North West Africa.

“However, all is not lost,” warned El-Ghassim Wane.

He highlighted the Council’s visit to the country last week and the tribute paid to the 243 fallen peacekeepers who were killed in the service of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA), saying that it was “a stark reminder of the sacrifices made over the past eight years in the search for peace.

“It has further strengthened our determination to ensure that each of these lost lives is not in vain,” he added.

A difficult situation

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Attacks targeting both Malian and international forces, including MINUSMA “peacekeepers”, continued. This Thursday alone, the Aguelhok camp came under indirect fire from mortars and rockets.

The humanitarian situation is also worrying, with 4.7 million people in need of assistance and some 400,000 people internally displaced.

For Mr. Wane, it is “useless to reiterate that, in this context, MINUSMA remains crucial in Mali”.

Growing needs

The Special Representative, who also acts as head of MINUSMA, said the mission was doing its best to support national authorities.

Between May and October, the Mission responded to “a myriad of requests” from the Government and the Defense and Security Forces, in terms of rations, fuel, ground and air transport, and engineering services.

Mr. Wane warned, however, that the mission was currently “overloaded”.

“All of these activities are being undertaken within existing resources. It is in this context that the Secretary General recommended an increase in our operation ”, he informed.

Peace negotiations

The Special Representative believes that the response to all these challenges “cannot be purely military”, requiring a political response.

On the 2015 peace agreement, he called progress “frustratingly slow”, in key aspects such as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, institutional reforms and development.

He also pointed to some “encouraging developments” in recent weeks. According to him, the transition “has reached a critical stage”.

Following a military coup in August 2020, the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) accepted an 18-month political transition to civilian rule.

Now, according to Mr. Wane, the transitional authorities believe that the improvement of the security situation and the launch of certain fundamental reforms “are essential to the holding of credible elections and ensure that the return to constitutional order and stability is not short-lived ”.

“Barbarian” attacks condemned by UN rights experts

Underlining insecurity and impunity in Mali, a group of UN human rights experts on Friday denounced a series of “barbaric” attacks against hundreds of people born in what they describe as nothing less than modern day slavery.

“These heinous and unspeakable acts have lasted far too long, committed by some Malian nationals who openly defend slavery based on descent”, the experts said in a statement.

“The whole world is watching and losing patience. We have condemned this heinous practice many times before. Now the Malian government must act, starting by ending impunity for attacks on ‘slaves’, ”they added.

Series of attacks

The latest attacks took place at the end of September in the Kayes region, some 500 km northwest of the capital Bamako. The area has been the site of seven previous attacks since January, in which one person was killed, at least 77 injured and more than 3,000 “slaves” displaced.

“The fact that these attacks occur so often in this region shows that ancestry-based slavery is still socially accepted by some influential politicians, traditional leaders, law enforcement officials and judicial authorities in Mali,” said said the experts.

Some people were born into slavery in Mali because their ancestors were captured in slavery and their families “belonged” to slave families – the so-called “nobles” – for generations. “Slaves” are forced to work without pay, can be inherited and are deprived of basic human rights.

Noting that Mali does not have a specific law against this ancient practice, experts said it was high time to ban it.

“Slavery can no longer be tolerated. Those who continue to support him must understand that they cannot attack people who claim their legitimate rights with impunity, ”they concluded.

All independent UN rights experts are appointed by the Human Rights Council and work on a voluntary basis. They serve in an individual capacity and are not United Nations staff and do not receive a salary from the United Nations.

Information visit

Also on Friday, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ilze Brands Kehris announced that she would be making a six-day visit to the country, starting November 1.

She will meet with senior government officials, the head of the African Union Mission in Mali and the Sahel (MISAHEL), senior G5-Sahel officials, members of the diplomatic community, as well as national human rights institutions. man and other entities.

The Assistant Secretary-General will also meet with the leadership of MINUSMA.

She will collaborate with various human rights and civil society organizations, community leaders and youth associations, as well as with religious and traditional authorities.

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