10 NGOs call for measures to mitigate harm to civilians in any military response in Mali

Konflikt in Mali

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20 December (New York): A military offensive in nor
thern Mali would have serious
humanitarian consequences and requires serious safe
guards to be put in place
warns a coalition of ten non-governmental organisat
ions today. As the United Nations
Security Council considers a resolution to authoris
e an international military force to
restore territorial integrity, humanitarian NGOs op
erating in Mali have come together
to sound a note of caution.
The ten NGOs call on the Security Council to give h
igh priority to finding a peaceful
political solution to achieve long-term stability i
n Mali, whilst ensuring that any military
action would come with strong measures to mitigate
harm to civilians.
“The deployment of a military operation could have
significant humanitarian
consequences as many families have already been bad
ly affected by fighting and the
severe food crisis. We fear any intensification of
violence could affect the civilian
population with an increase in humanitarian needs a
nd the continued displacement of
people. Throughout its decision-making process, the
Security Council must make
sure that any military planning includes humanitari
an consideration to minimize harm
to civilians at all stages,” said Michael Quinn, Co
untry Director of Oxfam in Mali.
According to the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees, a
total of 412,000 persons had been forced to flee th
eir homes. This figure includes
some 208,000 refugees who are currently hosted in A
lgeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea,
Mauritania, the Niger and Togo. An additional 204,0
00 Malians have been internally
displaced and living in tough conditions, reliant o
n humanitarian assistance as well as
the solidarity of host communities.
“Women and children are among the most vulnerable g
roups when military
operations are launched. In some parts of Mali we a
lready have alarming reports of
sexual violence against women and girls and we ough
t to protect the rights especially
for women, children, persons with disabilities and
elderly who are the most
vulnerable,” said Chance Briggs, National Director
of World Vision Mali.
The ten agencies are calling on the UN Security Cou
ncil to implement a series of
recommendations including
1. Give high priority to negotiating a peaceful sol
ution to the crisis, while linking
any authorization for the deployment of armed force
s to a clear and feasible
long-term strategy focused on strengthening social
cohesion and inclusive
governance in Mali.
2. Require that any military force authorised by th
e Security Council would
receive training on international humanitarian, hum
an rights and refugee law
and would take all measures necessary to prevent ha
rm to civilians and their
property during hostilities.
3. Ensure the authorised forces would report to the
Security Council in a timely
and transparent way on steps they take to comply wi
th international law and
mitigate civilian harm.
4. Call upon donors to increase their support for h
umanitarian assistance to meet
urgent needs, currently estimated at $214 million,
and be prepared to provide
further support as necessary.
5. Ensure the UN leads humanitarian contingency pla
nning and requests
sufficient additional funding to meet all the needs
of affected civilians,
including additional needs arising as a result of m
ilitary operations.
Signatory organisations: CARE International, Christ
ian Aid, Handicap
International, Internal Displacement Monitoring Cen
tre (IDMC), International
Rescue Committee, Oxfam, Norwegian Refugee Council,
International, Tearfund, World Vision International

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