The head of the UN mission in Mali (Minusma) asked the Security Council on Tuesday for the necessary means to ensure its mandate in a country where the security situation remains "volatile" in several regions and where its actions are subject to "restrictions.
As four more peacekeepers were killed Monday by an improvised explosive device, El Ghassim Wane described "a very difficult security, humanitarian and human rights situation."
"The security situation remains volatile in central Mali and in the Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger tri-border area," he said.
"We are using our resources in the most creative and flexible way possible," but the "determination" of peacekeepers on the ground "cannot replace the means we desperately need," he insisted, describing a "difficult operational environment.
The report by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres discussed at the meeting highlighted "restrictions on movement and access" faced by UNMIS, most of them imposed by Malian authorities, as well as "disinformation campaigns" against the mission.
"obstruction of the mission's activities"
"Minusma is in danger," commented French Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière, referring to the actions of terrorist groups and "obstruction of the mission's activities."
"We are counting on the spirit of responsibility of the transitional authorities not to precipitate a departure of which the Malians would be the first victims," he added, calling for "full and complete cooperation" from the Malian transitional government.
Antonio Gutteres, who is to present proposals on possible changes to the mission by January, noted in September the need to find "new solutions" for UNMIS.
In June, the Security Council extended its mandate by one year, until June 30, 2023, but for the first time without air support from France, which has withdrawn completely from Mali. At this point, it plans to maintain the current strength of 13,289 troops and 1,920 police.
"The will to assert our sovereignty over our territory."
"Contrary to what is being said, there is no desire to restrict the mission's movements," replied Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop, emphasizing the "desire to assert our sovereignty over our territory.
As for the future of UNMISMA, Mali's "priority" is to "refocus" on the "basis of its presence in Mali, notably support for the restoration of state authority throughout the country.
The minister also called again for a special session of the Security Council on France, which he accused of "repeated violations of Malian airspace", "duplicity, espionage, and destabilization".
"False" accusations were rejected by the French ambassador.