In the West African nation of Mali, El-Ghassim Wane, the esteemed Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Head of the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), has recently addressed the Security Council with a comprehensive report detailing the crucial developments that have transpired within the country over the past quarter. Wane’s observations paint a picture of a persistently volatile security landscape, characterized by sporadic occurrences of terrorist activities that have had a profoundly destructive impact on the lives of innocent civilians.
Despite the concerted efforts of the Malian military forces, as well as their counterparts from Niger, the situation on both the security and humanitarian fronts remains deeply concerning. As evidence of the ongoing crisis, over 30,000 internally displaced persons have been compelled to seek refuge in the vicinity of Ménaka, a prominent urban center which shares its name with the surrounding region. Additionally, approximately 2,400 individuals have taken shelter in the immediate vicinity of a MINUSMA encampment. Wane’s personal visit to the region just three weeks prior lends further credence to his account.
During his briefing, Wane emphasized the fact that the operations carried out by the Malian forces have indeed disrupted the extremist networks in the central region to a certain degree. However, this disruption has had the unintended consequence of forcing these extremist elements to scatter and regroup in neighboring regions, namely Timbuktu and Gao, which are now faced with escalating security threats.
Recognizing the gravity of the security challenges that continue to plague the nation, Wane highlighted the urgent necessity for increased coordination and collaboration between the Malian forces and the UN Mission in Mali. He praised the recent initiatives implemented at a regional level, stressing the importance of further enhancing and building upon these steps. Moreover, Wane underscored the vital role that freedom of movement plays in ensuring the safety and well-being of the population, urging all parties involved to prioritize this crucial aspect in their efforts to stabilize the region and protect the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.