NEW YORK, JANUARY 18 – Briefing the UN Security Council on Wednesday, the United Nations peacekeeping chief, Hervé Ladsous, strongly condemned the suicide bombing that reportedly killed at least 50 people and wounded dozens of others at a military camp in the northern Mali city of Gao. Ladsous denounced the attack as an attempt to derail the peace process and undermine recent progress on security arrangements.
“We condemn with the utmost firmness this cowardly and ignoble attack which constitutes a direct attack on the peace process,” he told the Council at the opening of his previously scheduled briefing on the situation in Mali and the work of the UN Mission there known by the French acronym, MINUSMA. Italy, who sits in the Council as a non-permanent member since January 1, remarked during the debate that the crisis in Mali has a regional dimension that goes way beyond its national borders. As one of the members of the Council closer to the region as especially invested in the crisis, an Italian representative called the Council attention on the need to quickly implement the 2015 peace agreement and to contrast illegal people trafficking originating in Mali and, more broadly, all criminal activities.
According to the UN Integrated Multi-Dimensional Stabilization Mission, shortly before 9:00 a.m., a sucide vehicle exploded inside the OMC (Operational Coordination Mechanism) camp in Gao. The camp is home to the elements of the Armed Forces of Mali, the Platform and Coordination of Azawad Movements (600 in total) which are tasked with leading the joint patrols envisaged by the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned in the strongest terms the suicide-vehicle attack, adding that “this despicable act reinforces the United Nations’ determination to support the people of Mali, the Government and the signatory armed groups in their quest for peace, their fight against terrorism and their efforts to uphold the peace agreement”.
In his remarks to the Council, Mr. Ladsous said the attack was clearly aimed at derailing the peace process by undermining trust between the signatory parties and the people, as well as counteracting recent progress in implementing the security arrangements of the peace accord.
Yet he stressed: “This incident underlines once more that accelerating the implementation of the [agreement] remains the only avenue possible for achieving peace and reconciliation in Mali and I once again urge all signatory parties to fully engage in its implementation. We do not have much time left.” (@OnuItalia)