Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva at the joint meeting of the United Nations Security Council and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union on the situation in Mali and the Sahel

We are deeply concerned by the situation in the Sahel. In the recent year, terrorist activity has flared up in the region with renewed vigor, inter-ethnic and inter-communal conflicts have grown, which has negatively affected the security situation. Hundreds of servicemen and civilians were killed at the hands of the militants. These are terrible figures.

The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. The number of refugees and internally displaced persons has increased, and challenges to food security remain at their peak. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the burden on medical institutions has seriously increased. Many schools are still closed. All this requires the states of the region to take urgent measures to solve critical socio-economic problems, strengthen state institutions, and protect human rights. And I am convinced that these measures should be based on national political decisions and sovereign choices of the path of political and socio-economic development. Otherwise, conditions for the radicalization of the population, including the youth, will only multiply.

We note with satisfaction that the states of the Sahel are taking serious steps to overcome the deep challenges they face. One of the most important measures was their decision to create four years ago joint forces to fight terrorism and organized crime, which, despite all the difficulties, have already become an important element of regional security.

We believe it is of critical importance for the countries of the region to be in the driving seat of these efforts. We hope that in their wisdom they will overcome divisions and put first the common objectives of stabilizing the region.

It is obvious that the full functioning of "G5 Sahel" forces depends also on two important factors: ensuring their stable and predictable funding and providing appropriate transport and logistics support. In this regard, we support the assistance provided to the joint forces by the UN Mission in Mali - MINUSMA. At the same time, we recognize that difficult conditions on the ground, asymmetric challenges, and extended communications require more stable international support.

In this regard, we are ready for a substantive consideration in the Council of the proposals contained in the Secretary General's October letter on expanding UN assistance to the Sahelian forces. Both options - whether it is the creation of an advisory office in the G5 Sahel Secretariat or the establishment of a full-fledged support office - require a clear understanding of the timing of their feasibility, efficiency, costs and sources of funding. We look forward to further dialogue with partners on these issues.

More broadly, we are convinced of the importance of further coordinated steps both on the part of the Africa and the international community, aimed at combating terrorism in the Sahara-Sahel region. We hope that the development by the African Union, together with regional organizations, of a concept for the deployment of standby African forces in the Sahel will continue.

We would also like to touch base on the situation in Mali. In our opinion, the improvement of the situation in this country depends, first of all, on internal political stability. Further turmoil associated with the power struggle could lead the country to a standstill.

Contacts of the Council during its mission in October with the current transitional government of Mali have shown, that it is very much interested in stabilizing the situation. We welcome in this regard the launch of the national dialogue with various social and political forces that should forge unity around needed reforms and garner support for realistic election timetable. Although with delays, the process of DDR and the deployment of reformed armed forces in the North is under way, measures are being discussed to restore peace and overcome inter-communal conflicts.

The obligations of the transitional authorities to restore the constitutional order should be fulfilled taking into account the realities “on the ground”. Of course, we would like the election dates not to be shifted. However, we understand the difficulties that the Malian authorities face in preparing for them. We agree that without the return of state control in many regions of the country, the results of the elections will be difficult to consider as reliable. And this is a direct path to another political destabilization, as happened in Mali after last year's elections.

With regard to the settlement in Mali, we persistently proceed from the principle of "African solutions to African problems". We would like to see Mali authorities succeed in their endeavor to stabilize the country and play their role in the regional peace through ECOWAS. In this context, we support the mediation efforts of ECOWAS and the African Union in the region on the principle of non-interference in internal affairs.

The situation in the Sahel is a key factor of regional security. We hope that the ECOWAS decisions on the socio-economic development of the region and improvement of the security situation, reached in 2020 and 2021, will be implemented.

Russia is closely following the development of the situation in the Sahel. A number of countries are provided with various assistance and training. We intend to continue this work further. We are also ready to cooperate in good faith with members of the Security Council as well as African partners on issues related to Sahel.

I thank you.