UN humanitarian envoy for the Sahel visits Mali

The UN Regional Humanitarian Co-ordinator for the Sahel reported progress and remaining security and development challenges following a visit to Mali. Toby Lanzer met with government representatives, local authorities, civil society leaders and humanitarian workers during his 18-22 January mission. He travelled to Gao and Kidal, where he visited aid projects and met people affected by the crisis. Speaking to reporters, the UN envoy highlighted once again the importance of strengthening recovery efforts and building community resilience. "Mali is at a turning point in its history and the authorities must remain fully committed to seizing this opportunity," Lanzer said. "At the same time, the international community must maintain and scale up its support to enable people to realize their expectation for peace, justice and development." He welcomed progress in the reopening of schools and access to safe water, electricity and healthcare services. Working in partnership, the Malian government and humanitarian actors came to the assistance of more than 1.5 million people last year. The UN humanitarian co-ordinator expressed concern about continuing insecurity, which has hampered the delivery of aid in some areas. "Redeployment of state authorities is essential if we are to consolidate existing gains and strengthen the much needed recovery and resilience work with the support of humanitarian and development partners", he said. The UN has appealed for USD 354 million this year to fund the humanitarian response plan for Mali.