UN Special. Janvier 2014.
The American David Gressly is Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). He also serves as United Nations Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since July 2013.
With more than 20 years of experience with the United Nations system, David Gressly has served with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in various capacities in Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Senegal. He was Regional Coordinator in the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) from 2008 to 2011; and subsequently Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel from 2012 to 2013, where he led the humanitarian response to the 2012 food security and nutrition crisis in the region.
Could you give us a brief update on the current humanitarian situation in Mali?
Mali has faced, since early 2012, a double crisis. The first one is the food security and nutrition crisis. Last year it affected over 4 million people. This year, over a million people have been impacted and over 200,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, but as you know malnutrition is endemic in much of Mali. The second crisis is the conflict which led over a half million people fleeing their homes either as refugees or Internal Displaced People (IDPs). We are now looking at the positive side of it, how to help them return home.
When Mr. Ban Ki-moon was recently in Bamako he said “it is time for action”. How do you intend to implement the Secretary-General’s vision on the ground?
The Secretary-General’s call for action was both for the region and Mali. What is going on through the Sahel region also concerns Mali. We are looking at 3 major pillars: security which is a cross-border issue, a quality of governance among the countries of the Sahel, the development and resilience pillar to overcome the humanitarian crisis. One can highlight the inflow of new resources from the World Bank, the European Union and the African Development Bank coming into this region to help the country deal with the multiple crises that they’ve faced.
Do you already have an action plan?
To respond to the humanitarian needs, we have developed a plan which has already over 100 million dollars for humanitarian action. This plan particularly covers humanitarian needs, support for returns of refugees and IDPs who are coming back in large numbers. This plan also concerns the early recovery of the North of Mali, reestablishing State government, State authority, administration and getting basic social services running again.
Will the full deployment of MINUSMA help?
Absolutely! Right now we are under half of the force and some units are still missing, but we are confident that in the next few months everything will be in place. Doubling the size of the force on the ground will have a commensurable increase in security. We are particularly concerned about the region West of Timbuktu and the Kidal region itself. We would like those areas better secured to provide access for humanitarian assistance for the return of the refugees, IDP’s and in the medium term the return of the development partners on the ground. Many donors in Bamako are ready to invest.
A pledge of 3.2 billion Euros has been made in Brussels last May. There is a real desire to get that funding out to people to support agricultural production, improvements in health and education, governance, to make it a reality for people on the ground.
Can you give us an overview about the financial resources needed to respond both to humanitarian and recovery, peace building needs?
For the initial needs we have estimated US$289 million for recovery in the North. For Mali as a whole we have requested US$477 million, of which we have received only 50%. I do believe that there is still a commitment to support Mali, in particular, and Sahel, in general.
I am very happy to see that over the last 12 months a much greater global understanding of what the Sahel is has come into being.
I think it was relatively unknown, now we have the Sahel regularly discussed in New York, Washington, Brussels, or in regional meetings, as well as in different institutions like the African Union… I think it is all recognition that there is a package of issues which must be dealt with by the global community, the African Union and the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) as a regional organization. It is a transnational kind of issue.
With the difficult current economic conditions do you think that donors will still follow?
Donors are still very sympathetic to the issues and want to be helpful. We have an obligation to demonstrate clearly to governments that provide such an assistance what we do with the funding we get. We have to give them that level of information which clearly describes the situation and what has been done to address it. My experience with donors is that they are very responsive to this kind of information.