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UN Envoy Asks for 'Peace Dividend' for Mali

FILE - Special Representative and head of the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) Mongi Hamdi. (U.N. Photo/Devra Berkowitz)

The top U.N. envoy to Mali asked the Security Council on Tuesday to provide the country with a "peace dividend" following last week's peace agreement with Tuareg rebels.

Mongi Hamdi called on the council to quickly approve funds for water, electricity and schools for Malians.

Hamdi said re-establishing basic social services is crucial as thousands of refugees start to return home.

He said reconstruction in Mali would be more difficult than destruction, saying cease-fire violations in the north were a "stark reminder of the complexity and unpredictability of the security environment."

Hamdi said northern Mali's "size, geographical environment, harsh climate and extremely poor or nonexistent infrastructure" pose significant challenges for the U.N. peacekeeping mission.

Mali's government signed an Algerian-brokered peace agreement with a coalition of Tuareg rebels and their Arab allies Saturday, weeks after the government signed a deal with loyalist militias.

The agreement includes greater autonomy for northern Mali, where Tuaregs and their allies launched uprisings against the government, saying they have been marginalized and their problems ignored.

Previous peace deals in Mali have failed to hold.

Chaos that followed a 2012 military coup in Mali allowed the Tuaregs to seize several major towns in the north. They were pushed out by al-Qaida-linked Islamic militants, who were defeated themselves by a French military force.