Briefing to the Security Council on the situation in Mali - Statement by USG Atul Khare

7 Oct 2016

Briefing to the Security Council on the situation in Mali - Statement by USG Atul Khare


Mr. President,


Members of the Council, distinguished delegates,


I am honoured to be with you today alongside USG Ladsous to brief you on support to MINUSMA’s operations. Mali remains one of the most difficult environments known to peacekeeping. The size of the country, the remote and land-locked areas where we are deployed and poor and insecure road networks continue to pose significant challenges for support to MINUSMA’s operations.


Currently we are focused on implementing measures to ensure secure and uninterrupted supply routes; upgrade and strengthen the defence and infrastructure of all existing camps; and improve the Mission’s capabilities.


MINUSMA is establishing its main logistics hub in Gao to better serve all of the Mission’s locations in northern Mali. Discussions with Algeria, Benin and Niger continue in an effort to establish additional and much shorter supply routes to Mali. The route from the port of Cotonou through Niamey to Gao for example would be more than 1,400 kilometres shorter than MINUSMA’s current supply route from Dakar[1].


In response to the significant security threat in Mali, MINUSMA continues to upgrade and strengthen the defence infrastructure of all existing camps, including by reinforcing its facilities against blasts and installing protected command positions and bunkers. In high-risk areas, the Mission has also improved living conditions for civilian and uniformed personnel.


We continue to innovate with use of modern technology, particularly to improve our situational awareness, strengthen the security of our own personnel and assets as well as our capacity to protect civilians. MINUSMA has implemented several pilot projects using surveillance and early warning technology to improve the intelligence-gathering capacity of the Mission to prevent attacks.


Mr. President, Members of the Council, distinguished delegates,


In order for MINUSMA to be able to implement its mandate, it is critical that the Mission be provided with the necessary capacities and capabilities required to operate safely and effectively in the current environment.


Since its inception, MINUSMA has experienced significant contingent owned equipment (COE) capability gaps, particularly with the re-hatted formed units from the African Union. Shortages of major equipment such as APCs, support vehicles, generators, water treatment plans and other critical logistics equipment have affected the ability of military and police components to perform operational tasks. Self-sustainment services of the contingents especially in the categories of medical, observation and communication, among others, have not always been provided up to the established standards. Thanks to corrective action taken by concerned TCCs and PCCs this year to deploy COE vehicles and other items to meet their obligations and improve equipment serviceability, the overall COE capability of contingents in MINUSMA has improved but key gaps remain.


Given the increasingly insecure environment, significant efforts are being made to strengthen the Mission Medical Support Plan, equipment and personnel gaps identified in Mission Medical Facilities. MINUSMA’s vast area of operations and the austere environment present unique challenges with regard to the implementation of the 10-1-2 international emergency medical response timelines, referring to CASEVAC and MEDEVAC. To address critical gaps in TCC capabilities in this area, the Mission recently acquired, through a commercial solicitation process, two medical evacuation helicopters equipped with the latest in night vision technology along with fully integrated medical teams. One is already deployed to Timbuktu and the second will be deployed shortly to Kidal.


In addition, in order to effectively address the first 10 minutes from the onset of injury or illness, training for MINUSMA troops and medical personnel is ongoing. UN Headquarters is also working on the development of UN specific First Aid training material, which will be delivered to all Member States as a UN Medical Standard to be incorporated in the Pre-deployment Troop Training Material to streamline the quality of first aid delivered in UN field Missions.


Modern peacekeeping operations like MINUSMA demand a range of new or stronger capabilities. To this end we have been working to put forward innovative solutions to enhance our capabilities. We continue to call on Member States to consider becoming “COE contributing countries”; contributing to joint battalions; and/or partnering directly with troop and police contributing countries to provide the required equipment.


One example of an innovative approach to ensuring the required capabilities is the collaboration between Norway, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal and Sweden who have jointly agreed to provide a C-130 aviation unit to MINUSMA through a mutually agreed multinational rotation concept. This will guarantee the continuous provision of this very critical air asset to MINUSMA for a period of approximately 2 years.


Mr. President, Members of the Council, distinguished delegates,


It is essential that we uphold the highest standards as we serve and protect the local population. In Mali, environmental management is a key priority for DFS.


Likewise, I continue to prioritize efforts to address sexual exploitation and abuse and all issues related to the conduct of UN personnel. I call on all Member States to ensure that our personnel uphold the highest standards of conduct and discipline, ensuring adequate training, timely reporting of incidents and follow-up action when necessary to ensure accountability.


Looking ahead, neither the challenges nor the risks at hand should be underestimated. A failure to enhance the Mission’s capability will have a significant impact on our capacity to deliver on the mandate. However, the results achieved by MINUSMA thus far suggest that, with commitment, vision, required resources and continued support from all of you, these challenges are not insurmountable.


I would like to thank all of you for your continued support.


[1] Distance by road; Dakar-Bamako-Gao is 3,058km and Contonou-Niamey-Gao is 1,606 km.