Bamako, Mali - The crisis in Mali is having far-reaching impact on the rest of West
Africa and the Sahel, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative
for West Africa, Said Djinnit, said.
Djinnit made the statement while briefing the UN Security Council on
Friday, adding that the situation in the country illustrated the fragile
nature of the region.
“As developments unfold in Mali, the risks for infiltration and
destabilisation are real in some of the countries bordering Mali as
illustrated by the efforts of neighbouring countries to tighten security
along the borders,” the envoy said.
He said that the situation in Mali had heightened the overall terrorism threat in the sub-region.
He urged the international community to remain mindful of the
limitations faced by Mali’s neighbours and enhance support in the areas
of border control and counter-terrorism.
Djinnit stressed that the international community must simultaneously
support both the political and military tracks to ensure a successful
“It will also be necessary to eventually pursue a broad reconciliation
process that strengthens the foundations for national cohesion in Mali.
“The recently deployed UN team in Bamako will be fully available to
support this process and I will personally continue to support these
efforts,” Djinnit said.
He said that beyond the crises in Mali and the Sahel, the region had
continued to be threatened by piracy and armed robbery at sea in the
Gulf of Guinea, disrupting maritime trade roots and economic progress in
Djinnit said tensions along the borders between Liberia and Côte
d’Ivoire, and transnational organised crime in Guinea-Bissau and Mali
were also a source of concern.
“The situation in West Africa remains at a crossroads. On the one hand, the leaders of the region have made significant
progress toward the promotion and consolidation of peace and are taking
decisive efforts to address the pressing challenges to peace and
security in the region,’’ he said.
The envoy said that the situation in Mali and in the Sahel, combined
with other cross-cutting threats in the region, including drug
trafficking and piracy, posed a threat to regional peace.
"They have the potential to undermine security in West Africa, while
the root causes of instability in the region are yet to be fully
addressed,” he added.
He called for continued attention and support of the international
community, in particular the Security Council, to ECOWAS leaders and
countries to ensure lasting peace, stability and development.
Fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels broke out in
northern Mali in January 2012, after which radical Islamists seized
control of the region.
The renewed clashes in the north, as well as the proliferation of armed
groups in the region, drought and political instability in the wake of a
military coup d'etat in March had uprooted hundreds of thousands of
The latest estimate by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
states that more than 150 000 people have fled to neighbouring
Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso, while an additional 230 000 have
been internally displaced.
The conflict has strained resources and worsened the humanitarian
situation in the Sahel, which was already precarious due to years of
drought, piracy, and transnational organised crime.
The situation prompted the Malian Government to request military
assistance from France to stop the progression of extremist groups.
The UN Security Council had in December 2012 auhorised the deployment of
an African-led International Support Mission in Mali, known as AFISMA,
for an initial period of one year, to assist the authorities in
recovering rebel-held regions in the north and restoring
the unity of the country.