MINUSMA appreciates that its continuous efforts to enhance its CASEVAC procedures to improve the safety and security of its personnel have been acknowledged in this research. This includes an examination of best practices beyond our own experience and an ongoing review of current procedures. This includes recently requesting an evaluation of our processes from specialists in UN headquarters, which is providing the Mission an opportunity to improve its current decentralized CASEVAC Standard Operating Procedure, including, inter alia, clarifying any ambiguities in its interpretation. The unfortunate reality of the Mission’s operational environment means that our CASEVAC procedures are constantly exercised, providing a regular opportunity to assess and improve. Notwithstanding, we recognize that it is important to build on the progress we have made through the implementation of our decentralized CASEVAC procedures and continue to clearly communicate agreed processes and ensure that they are understood by stakeholders and actors Mission-wide.
As the research demonstrates, CASEVAC remains a complex and highly involved process, and even more so when it involves non-UN civilian personnel, which would make it difficult to fully decentralize as a standard procedure. While MINUSMA is mandated to provide CASEVAC coverage to uniformed partners, such as the MDSF and the G5 Sahel Joint Force, CASEVAC of non-UN civilians is not an explicitly mandated activity, and is undertaken primarily on humanitarian and medical grounds when no other local or international humanitarian actors are present on the ground; as such it is necessarily decided only on a case-by-case basis. All risks and contingencies need to be considered and due diligence carried out. Given the limited resources and assets, if the expectation is for the Mission to routinely conduct the CASEVAC of non-UN civilians, then this expectation needs to be matched with the requisite mandate and resources, without prejudice to the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians remaining with the Malian state, and bearing in mind the need to not substitute this function of the state.
The Mission further recognizes that the confidence in underpinning processes such as CASEVAC is an essential element for the successful execution of mandated tasks. Accordingly, MINUSMA is in regular and sustained conversations both with UN Headquarters and our Troop and Police Contributing Countries, to ensure that the appropriate skills, experience and equipment are available within the Mission to ensure the best possible outcomes.