Ban welcomes &#39important step forward&#39 towards Mali peace

6 March 2015 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the progress made towards the establishment of an inclusive peace in Mali in an effort to resolve the country’s ongoing crisis, the United Nations spokesperson confirmed today.
In a statement released this afternoon, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said the Secretary-General commended Malian stakeholders for &#8220the progress achieved to date&#8221 and expressed his gratitude to both Algeria, for hosting the peace process, and members of the international community for their &#8220dedicated efforts in support of the resolution of the conflict.&#8221
&#8220The initialling on 1 March in Algiers of a draft agreement on peace and reconciliation in Mali by the Government of Mali and the Plateforme coalition of armed groups is an important step forward,&#8221 said the statement. &#8220The political will and ownership of all Malian parties is essential for sustainable peace.&#8221
The Government in Mali has been seeking to restore stability and rebuild following a series of setbacks since early 2012, including a military coup d’état, renewed fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the seizure of its northern territory by radical Islamists.
Throughout much of this time, Mali’s north has remained restive and, in recent months, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) and its &#8220blue helmets&#8221 have come under repeated violent attack.
In addition, the country has been consumed by a series of humanitarian crises. Addressing journalists in Geneva last week, Jens Laerke, from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), noted that at the peak of the crisis, more than 500,000 people had left the north of Mali to seek refuge in the south or in neighbouring countries. Although nearly 400,000 had already returned, they continued to face challenges in restarting their lives as communities had become more vulnerable, livelihoods had deteriorated, and social services were working only partially, especially in rural areas.
At the same time, Mali continued to face a high level of food insecurity and malnutrition &#8211 a problem affecting countries throughout Africa’s Sahel region. According to UN estimates, nearly 2.6 million people in Mali, or 15 per cent of the total population, will suffer from food insecurity this year while more than one in 10 children would be affected by acute malnutrition.
The UN spokesperson declared the Organization’s continued commitment to supporting Malians in their search for peace, security, justice and development through the &#8220full and timely implementation of a future agreement&#8221 and said Mr. Ban called on all parties &#8220to engage to reach a final settlement.&#8221
Also today, the Secretary-General announced the appointment of Major General Michael Lollesgard of Denmark as the new MINUSMA Force Commander.
Mr. Lollesgard succeeds Major General Jean Bosco Kazura of Rwanda to whom Mr. Ban expressed his gratitude for his &#8220dedicated and exemplary service during his tenure.&#8221
According to the UN spokesperson’s office, Mr. Lollesgard brings to his new role 30 years of national and international experience including deployments in peace support operations in the Balkans and Iraq.