Situation in Mali
Delivered in Plenary - 13th March 2013
I had only a minor role to play, with three other doctors, but when duty calls, we do our best in the circumstances. I was only concerned about the length of time it took for the ambulance and the emergency medics to come from the local hospital. It was far too long a delay, but we will talk about that some other time.
The two-month-old mission to Mali, led by France with some British support, has achieved its principle military objective of driving out the Jihadi extremists from Northern Maliís towns and villages and has saved the country from an immediate fate that does not bear thinking about.
But the hard work is just beginning. The convergence of chronic political instability and ethnic resentment still remains and will become an easy target for foreign terrorists seeking to exploit the situation for their own perverted ends. The resulting collapse of human rights, which could potentially be felt for years to come, could provoke even more instability. We are now witnessing the start of a wearingly familiar insurgency of guerrilla warfare and Islamist suicide bombers, previously unthinkable in what was apparently a stable democratic country.
It goes without saying that once the French and the Ecowas troops withdraw, they must be replaced by a full UN peacekeeping mandate which is prepared to stay the course in the country for the foreseeable future. There must also be a just political settlement and process of national reconciliation and nation-building which respects Maliís territorial integrity but which acknowledges the Tuareg peopleís past legitimate grievances and incorporates them into the national systems of decision-making and sharing the resources of the country. Certainly the brutal summary justice meted out by certain Malian troops to Tuaregs accused of collaboration must end immediately, with the criminal perpetrators being brought to justice.
Human rights in Mali will be at the centre of my upcoming report on the Sahel and I greatly hope that the European Union, with its stabilisation and development skills, and the EU training mission to the armed forces of Mali can work with the Malians to rebuild their beautiful country and offer its citizens a peaceful, prosperous future.