President Boni Yayi of the Republic of Benin addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Marco Castro

25 September 2012 ? Benin?s President today called on the international community to help eliminate the grave threat posed by Islamist militants who have seized control of northern Mali, warning the United Nations that they endanger stability in the whole West African region.

?These terrorist movements engage in all sorts of trafficking in drugs, people and all calibre of arms,? President Boni Yayi told the 67th United Nations General Assembly?s General Debate on its opening day.

?They are committing massive violations of the fundamental rights of citizens by imposing practices from another age,? he added. ?They are irreversibly mutilating people by amputating their upper and lower limbs as punishment.?

Fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels broke out in northern Mali in January. The instability and insecurity resulting from the renewed clashes, as well as the proliferation of armed groups in the region, drought and political instability in the wake of a military coup d??tat in March, have led over 250,000 Malians to flee to neighbouring countries, with 174,000 Malians estimated to be internally displaced.

The world community must collaborate with the African Union to ?eliminate this grave threat to the peace and security of the sub-region and prevent a large-scale humanitarian catastrophe,? President Yayi continued.

?In the spirit of the strategic relationship between Africa and the United Nations in the field of peace and security it is crucial that the Security Council not lose interest in the fate of civilians exposed to violent abuses by extremist and terrorist movements,? he said.

Among other challenges confronting the continent, President Yayi cited piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the Horn of Africa, malnutrition, unemployment, soil erosion, climate change and bad governance.

As he and other African leaders have at past General Assembly general debates, he also called for the enlargement of the 15-member Security Council, with Africa receiving permanent seats.

Scores of the world?s heads of State and government and other high-level officials are expected to present their views and comment on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly?s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.

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