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Australian assistance for Mali

January 30, 2013

Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Defence Minister Stephen Smith today announced that Australia would provide $10 million in assistance to Mali to support peace, security and humanitarian needs.

Australia will provide a financial contribution of $5 million to the UN Trust Fund to support the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).

This support will help fund AFISMA’s operational costs such as military staffing, logistics requirements, and acquisition of equipment to support the AFISMA mission.

As part of the package Australia will also provide a further $5 million in assistance to help meet Mali’s growing humanitarian needs.

This includes $2 million for critical humanitarian assistance including emergency medical, food, water and essential household items for people displaced by the conflict within Mali and the region.

$3 million will go to the World Food Programme and UNICEF in Niger for emergency treatment for children under the age of five as well as addressing the root causes of their chronic malnutrition.

The situation in Mali is one of the most serious peace, security and humanitarian challenges facing Africa, with regional and global consequences given the involvement of terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the backdrop of food insecurity across the Sahel.

The deployment of French military forces to Mali, at the invitation of Mali’s transitional government, has been successful in halting the extremist advance from the north and restoring some stability to Mali.

As Australia has argued in the UN Security Council, it is now imperative that African forces under the AFISMA banner deploy quickly to Mali to solidify these gains.

Australia’s financial contribution to AFISMA will help ensure this happens. It builds on a long tradition of Australian peace and security assistance to Africa, including support for the development of African peacekeeping capabilities, the current Australian deployment to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

It is essential that a reinvigorated political process moves in tandem with this military effort. Australia urges leaders in Bamako and non-extremist elements in the north to embrace negotiations in good faith and make the compromises necessary for a durable political settlement.

Mali has experienced significant population displacement since the Malian Government declared a State of Emergency on 11 January, and continues to be adversely affected by regional food insecurity and malnutrition.

This contribution builds on Australia’s humanitarian assistance of over AUD$10 million in 2012 for Mali, out of a total of AUD$44 million in Australian humanitarian support for the Sahel region of West Africa.

• AU$4m to the United Nations Refugee Agency for essential humanitarian assistance including providing food, water and shelter to Malian refugees fleeing the violence in Burkina Faso and Niger (announced 26 September)
• AU$3m for emergency operations including refugee assistance and protection in Mali (announced 26 September)
• AU$1.3m to the World Food Programme (WFP) to provide emergency food assistance to IDPs in Mali and to Malian refugees in neighbouring Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger (announced 30 May).
• AU$2m to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide nutrition support as well as water, sanitation and hygiene activities. (announced 9 February).

Australia will be represented at the Mali Donors’ Conference in Addis Ababa on 29 January (morning January 30 AEDT) by its Ambassador to the African Union.

The Mali Donors’ Conference has been convened to raise funds, and secure pledges of support, equipment and training for AFISMA’s efforts to assist Malian authorities to restore sovereignty and unity across the country.

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One Comment
  1. January 30, 2013 2:07 pm

    Ah yes Bob, when I heard that the US has a proposal to install a drone base in Niger I was wondering why they were not there to assist with the food emergency, the drought and the devastating poverty of that nation. But they are there principally to take the opportunity to get operational boots on the ground as part of the AFRICOM agenda to challenge the presence of Chinese resource extraction companies in Africa. Yes, there are selective concerns not merely based on merit. Why Mali – why not several other deserving African nations?

    It is nice to see Australia putting out some humanitarian aid – something we ought to be good at. I’d like nothing better. But I have an inkling that our aid to Mali and perhaps to Niger, where we know that people are starving, is contingent on the US military agenda. We are there as an ally, but we will be sending the SAS after the Australian federal election. They may or may not be in uniform and they will not be there to feed hungry people, as we both know.

    So, humanitarian aid is not carried out to better the lives of recipient communities. It is the ‘acceptable face’ of the security/intelligence/military agenda that rides in its wake. Doing under-the-radar operations out of public view smells like an effort to avoid accountability and public disapproval. Secrecy is the first enemy of democracy, as US President Obama should be reminded. Have a care how you involve Australia in the US ongoing efforts to achieve global dominance. It is not likely to be in Australia’s interests to get bogged down in yet another messy war.

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