Delivered By: Mrs. Ameirah AlHefeiti, Deputy Permanent Representative
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At the outset, I thank Special Representative, Mr. El-Ghassim Wane, for his valuable briefing, and we welcome the participation of His Excellency Mr. Abdoulaye Diop, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mali, in today’s meeting.
The persistence of violence in Mali is a major source of serious challenges facing the country, whether on political and security challenges, or the alarming deterioration of the humanitarian situation compounded with food insecurity. The situation requires a comprehensive approach to address the violence, which particularly affects women and children. Ending the violence requires continued dialogue between Mali’s stakeholders in order to reach consensus on what the country needs. It also requires to continue building on gains made in the context of the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. Doing so will in turn provide space for further action to address the security situation, which we hope will improve the humanitarian and economic conditions in Mali.
We are encouraged that Mali’s authorities have adopted a stabilization strategy for the Centre and that they have recently reached an agreement with armed groups to integrate 26,000 ex-combatants into Mali’s institutions. It is important here that efforts to empower women and enhance their role in state-building institutions continue to ensure durable peace.
In the context of the encouraging ongoing cooperation between ECOWAS and Mali, we stress the importance of sustained regional cooperation to support countries in strengthening the capabilities of their national institutions in a manner that responds to the aspirations of their people.
Regional cooperation is particularly salient when addressing cross-border threats posed by terrorist groups to the security of Mali and the region. The regional ambitions of these terrorist groups are evident and are not limited to controlling Mali alone. They also seek to spread violence and destruction in the broader Sahel region: a region which is a center of gravity for the security and development of the African continent. The implementation of the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel must therefore continue. We also hope that the recommendations to be made by the Independent Evaluation, led by His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou, will guide our common approach to finding sustainable solutions to the various challenges in the region, especially terrorism. While regional leadership remains a key pillar, the international community has a responsibility to support regional efforts such as the Accra Initiative, the Nouakchott process, and the G5 Sahel, and to assist countries of the region in securing their borders.
In light of rising levels of violence and terrorist attacks, especially in densely populated areas, which the UAE strongly condemns, efforts must be intensified to ensure that peacekeepers can implement their mandate safely and have unimpeded access to those in need. In particular, in light of the increased attacks against peacekeepers – most recently yesterday’s attack in Kidal – peacekeepers must also be provided with the necessary equipment to help protect them, especially from improvised explosive devices.
We reaffirm here our support for MINUSMA’s tireless efforts, and we express our sincere appreciation to the troop and police-contributing countries. Since peacekeeping is a multilateral partnership, continued cooperation among all relevant actors is important. We look forward to discussing the Secretary-General’s upcoming strategic review on MINUSMA on how to best implement its mandate.
In conclusion, Mr. President, while security issues remain a primary concern, other challenges cannot be overlooked. These include the dire humanitarian situation and the repercussions of climate change. The international community must take into consideration the impacts of these challenges in the context of providing support to Mali.
Thank you, Mr. President.