Assistant-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller - Opening Remarks at Member States Briefing on the Humanitarian Situation in Mali
UN Headquarters, New York, 16 October 2018
Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for joining us for this briefing on the humanitarian situation in Mali. I am delighted to be joined by His Excellency Mr. Issa Konfourou, Permanent Representative of Mali to the United Nations as well as by my colleague Ms. Mbaranga Gasarabwe, the Deputy Special Representative to the Secretary-General and Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Mali.
I was recently in Mali and I want to express my appreciation to Mbaranga’s team, the Government, humanitarian and development organizations, and the people of Mali for their warm welcome and support throughout my visit.
I travelled to Mali from 28 to 31 August 2018, following the presidential elections, to raise awareness of the worsening humanitarian situation and to discuss with partners how to scale up the response amid growing insecurity.
Over the past year, the humanitarian situation in northern and central Mali has significantly deteriorated, due to increasing conflict and inter-communal clashes and a poor rainy season in 2017, which has worsened food insecurity levels.
Today, 5.2 million people – one in four Malians – require humanitarian assistance, compared to 3.8 million in 2017 and 4.1 million in early 2018. This level of need is higher than at any point since 2012 when Mali was first hit by the security crisis and underwent a devastating drought.
The most significant needs in Mali pertain to food insecurity and malnutrition. Even in times of peace and good rains, hunger and under-nutrition are pervasive in Mali linked to chronic vulnerability and fragile basic services. Today, 4.6 million people in Mali are food-insecure, 930,000 of them severely food insecure.
In the capital, Bamako, I met with Government officials, UN agencies, national and international NGOs, civil society, international financial institutions, donors and signatory armed groups. The Prime Minister, His Excellency, Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, acknowledged that more must be done to address socio-economic needs in northern and central Mali to reduce vulnerability and dependence on humanitarian assistance. He thanked the UN for its support in these areas and called for this support to increase.
I travelled to Mopti in central Mali, one of the regions where humanitarian needs have increased the most this year. Once a peaceful, tolerant region, the intensification in inter-communal violence and clashes between armed groups has caused an unprecedented increase in the number of civilian casualties and forcibly displaced. Mopti currently hosts more than 12,000 internally displaced people, or IDPs, up from 2,000 in April – just six months ago.
I met with internally displaced people in the town of Bankass, where people arrived in April after having fled attacks on their homes in the town of Koro. People told me they are most in need of food, and protection for their families. Displaced people I met with also called for peace: only once peace and security are restored can they return to their towns and villages, and resume their livelihoods.
Ladies and gentlemen,
One of the most recurring issues raised by partners and donors was the increasing difficulty humanitarian organizations face to reach people in need. This year, the number of incidents reported by NGOs has tripled, with most incidents relating to criminality. Humanitarian operations are directly affected by the growing number of armed groups and counter-insurgency forces.
The importance of upholding humanitarian principles and maintaining a clear distinction between humanitarian and military actors is non-negotiable, and critical to ensuring humanitarian groups can maintain access to people in need.
I was impressed by NGOs’ success in maintaining access to most of the country, despite these significant challenges. Humanitarians are making a major difference in people’s lives and are preventing an even deeper crisis from taking hold.
I want to thank donors for their strong support to humanitarian efforts in Mali – this support is life-saving and is helping to protect and address the needs of millions of people affected by the crisis.
Despite this, we have seen that as humanitarian needs continue to increase, so has the financing gap. Mali’s 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan has received just one third of the US$330 million requested, making it one of the 10 least-funded appeals in the world. This has major implications for humanitarian operations, hindering the delivery of much needed assistance to some of the most vulnerable people in Mali.
Although partners have begun to discuss how to strengthen the humanitarian-development nexus, much more is needed to help advance this agenda. There is a dire shortage of effective development interventions in northern and central Mali to address the root causes of the crisis and strengthen community resilience. Partners – including Government authorities, humanitarian and development actors, local civil society and others – need to continue to work closely together to strengthen people’s resilience.
I believe northern and central Mali can emerge from crisis and begin to build a more peaceful and prosperous future. This requires action from all of us. I look to you for your continued support to ensure that we do not neglect this crisis, or the people in Mali.
Thank you very much.
I would now like to give the floor to Ms. Mbaranga Gasarabwe, DSRSG/RC/HC of Mali.