The United Nations (UN) says the situation in Mali remains dire, with 2.3 million people in need of assistance this year and 800 schools forced to close due to insecurity.
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations in Africa Bintou Keita told the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Wednesday that the situation, specifically in the central and northern areas of the country, was of grave concern, and provided a major challenge to implementing a 2015 peace agreement.
The Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali was signed in June 2015 by the Coordination des Mouvements de l’Azawad armed group, following its signature in May the same year by the government and a third party, the Plateforme coalition of armed groups.
The Mali government 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 extremists.
The UN Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) continued to operate under dangerous and difficult conditions with Mali the most dangerous place for UN peacekeepers.
Last December MINUSMA was attacked by extremist groups in a determined effort to thwart the mission from implementing its mandate. One peacekeeper was killed.
“Asymmetric attacks continue to target peacekeepers, national and international forces, and increasingly civilians”, Keita said.
Early in January, 37 people, including women and children, were killed when the village of Koulogon Peul in central Mali was attacked by rebels.
Meanwhile, as the UNSC was meeting, it was reported that gunmen had attacked two villages in the country’s central Menaka region near the border with Niger, killing more than 30 Tuaregs and further underscoring the country’s volatile security situation.
– African News Agency (ANA)