Mali: The Situation Is Getting Worse

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Mali’s transition has not yet succeeded in stopping the conflicts in the north and center. The Malian population is suffering from violence, in addition to harvest failures.

Attacks attributed to jihadist groups have continued to grow in Mali in more and more recent days. On Monday morning, March 7, the base of N’tahaka, a strategic lock located 50 km from Gao (in northern Mali) held by Malian army forces (FAMa), was stormed by jihadists. An operation, which according to the Malian media was extremely brutal.

The army headquarters in Bamako announced in the evening that it had lost only two soldiers and eliminated nine ” assaulters “. It is impossible to verify this report. On the same day, a logistical convoy of the United Nations mission (Minusma) was blown up by a mine north of Mopti (center), killing two Egyptian UN peacekeepers.

1. A series of attacks

These events are in addition to several attacks in the previous days. On Saturday, March 5, at the Mauritanian border, some fifteen civilians were killed on their way back from Mali, according to several corroborating sources.

Last Friday, March 4, a Malian army camp was attacked in Mondoro, in the Mopti region. With 27 dead, seven missing, and 33 wounded on the Malian side, this attack is the bloodiest since the beginning of the year in Mali. It raises questions about the insecurity that continues to prevail in the north and center of the country, while the French army and several of its allies are preparing the military and logistical withdrawal from the country of the Barkhane and Takuba forces.

This attack calls into question the relative calm that had been observed for several weeks. According to Moutid Dara, president of the Association d’aide et de secours aux déshérités du Mali, bureau de Mopti (ASADES Mali), the situation in Mopti was much quieter.

The inter-ethnic tensions between the Peul and Dogon have subsided and the members of his association can now move around better. Moutid Dara has noticed a change in the last six months or so.

“Before, I couldn’t go to Bandiagara or Mopti regularly, but now I can do it regularly. There are patrols, FAMA, Minusma,” he said. Unfortunately, this joy was short-lived.

2. Seven million people in distress

Almost 1,150,000 people were under the care of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)  at the end of January in Mali. This figure includes refugees who have fled abroad (more than 53,700 people), internally displaced persons (more than 350,000 people scattered in several regions of Mali), and those who have returned to their home regions but still need assistance, mainly in the regions of Gao, Segou, and Timbuktu.

3. Is Bamako in danger?

The upsurge in jihadist attacks in recent days is a stark contradiction of Bamako’s declarations of victory. In reality, Mali has never been in such a perilous situation for its territorial integrity.

In a note from the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri) published in early February, Mathieu Pellerin documents their advance southward to Koulikoro, Sikasso and Kayes: “The pressure exerted on these three regions augurs a new threat for Mali, that of a progressive encirclement of Bamako.

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