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Adaptation and authorized strength of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2021/657)

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I. Introduction

  1. In its resolution 2584 (2021), the Security Council requested the SecretaryGeneral, in the light of the growing level of insecurity and physical violence agai nst the civilian populations in central Mali, to provide, no later than 15 July 2021, a report on the progress of the force adaptation plan implementation and recommendations on the force levels and ceiling of United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) uniformed personnel, including planning assumptions and estimated costs, suggesting deployment phases and providing a detailed description and a timeline for the necessary new infrastructure works, information on how that would extend the field capability of MINUSMA and how it would accompany a Government-led strategy for the centre, and expressed its intent to discuss the Mission’s force level on the basis of that proposal.

II. Mission adaptation

  1. The MINUSMA force adaptation plan is aimed at enabling the Mission to deliver on its mandated strategic priorities, in particular the second priority, concerning the central region of Mali. In keeping with Security Council resolution 2518 (2020), in which the Council underscored the importance of adequate medical and other critical capabilities for peacekeeping operations to remain agile and effective in implementing their mandates and to enhance the safety and security of peacekeepers and mission protection, great strides have been made by the Mission to adapt to the evolving and highly complex threat environment and to become more agile, more mobile and more flexible, with more tailored units and enhan ced capabilities. Efforts continue under the adaptation plan to strengthen mobility and flexibility so as to address urgent and expanding needs with regard to protection of civilians. The mobile task force is now operational and is increasing its operation al tempo. Despite some challenges linked to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic restrictions and the political crisis in Mali, significant infrastructure acquisition and construction for Mission adaptation will be completed by early 2022, further strengthening the Mission’s dynamic posture and reach in central Mali.

  2. Significant gaps remain, however, in requirements for enabling capabilities, primarily aviation and medical assets, which are critical to ensure greater ability with regard to troop projections and enhancing peacekeepers’ safety and security. More broadly, these capability shortfalls, which substantially constrain the effectiveness of MINUSMA in delivering on its priorities, include military medium utility helicopter units, attack and armed helicopter units, forward surgical teams, a quick reaction force company and fixed-wing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and unmanned aerial system capabilities. Some medical, helicopter and aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities are anticipated to be deployed by the beginning of 2022. The ongoing deployment to Mopti of a level II hospital, as well as the forthcoming deployment of an armed helicopter unit and a medium utility helicopter unit with an integrated aeromedical evacuation team in early 2022, will significantly increase the Mission’s capacity to anticipate and respond to threats against civilians, as well as its ability to provide reliable medical support to peacekeepers. The fact that the personnel for all three of the above-mentioned incoming units will hail from the same troop-contributing country is expected to result in further interoperability and efficiency gains, including with respect to casualty evacuation timelines. However, the Secretariat is still seeking pledges for attack and armed helicopter units meeting the Mission’s requirements for northern Mali. In an increasingly challenging security environment, additional air assets are urgently needed to enable the Mission to deliver on its mandate. I reiterate my call on Member States to support the adaptation plan when considering contributions and the Mission’s budget, in keeping with their commitments under the Action for Peacekeeping framework, as well as in the spirit of the provisions of resolution 2518 (2020) on the safety and security of peacekeepers.