Ambassador Paul A. Folmsbee Remarks
Handover Ceremony of 22 Armories Constructed for the Malian Armed Forces, Customs and Police
Customs Headquarters Bamako, Mali
Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Général Keita, Chef d’Etat-major Général de l’Armée malienne,
Monsieur le Directeur Général de la Douane,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you, for your warm welcome and for inviting me to join you today to celebrate this initiative to prevent the illegal and dangerous proliferation of weapons and munitions in Mali.
The United States would like to thank the government of Mali and the security forces, as well as our NGO partner, Mines Advisory Group (MAG). We sponsor this program and stand firmly with Mali to prevent the illegal access and trafficking of arms and munitions, because when used inappropriately or illegally, they can destroy the lives of civilians and soldiers alike.
This partnership with the government of Mali and MAG was made possible with funding from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs flagship program for weapons removal and abatement.
Today, the United States turns over the keys to Mali for 22 armories to store weapons in Segou, Mopti, and Bamako. We invested $740,000 in these facilities and training programs for the Malian forces in order to deter the illegal proliferation of weapons.
This project builds on the work that our partnership accomplished in 2016, when we funded the construction and refurbishment of 15 weapons storage facilities for the Army in Kati and Sikasso, and the Police in Bamako, securing thousands of weapons.
Together, over the last two years we have worked to build and improve facilities, and to increase the capacity for the Malian security forces to handle and store weapons. These practices prevent accidents and keep dangerous arms from falling into the hands of terrorists and criminals
The Malian security forces have a tremendously challenging and dangerous job. We have seen clearly, and most recently from the terrorist attacks that involved landmines and other weapons, that preventing terrorists and criminals from having access to arms and munitions is a critical objective in the efforts to maintain stability and secure peace in Mali and across the Sahel.
I am delighted to report that the United States has continued our investment in this fruitful partnership by financing the 2018 project that began in January. With MAG and the government of Mali, our partnership is currently constructing and refurbishing weapons storage facilities and providing training that assists the Water and Forestry Direction of Sikasso and the Police of Bamako.
This year we are also supporting MAG’s program to partner with our Malian counterparts to destroy obsolete ammunition and unserviceable weapons. These activities will assist in reducing the risk of accidents and proliferation that can lead to devastating humanitarian effects. These projects are making a vital contribution to improved security and stability at both national and regional levels.
Thank you again for this opportunity to be with you here today, and I wish you all success in your continued efforts to build safety and security for the people of Mali.