In 2012, when armed groups took control of Mali's northern regions, more than half a million Malians were displaced from their homes. Roughly 150,000 people escaped to neighbouring countries, and hundreds of thousands became displaced inside Mali.
In June 2015, a peace agreement was signed between the two major armed coalitions and the Malian government. Since then, authorities have gradually returned to the north, providing basic state services in the largest towns. But many remote areas still lack basic services, like healthcare and education. On top of this, the central regions are now on the brink of collapsing into insecurity, or even full conflict.
While those who have stayed put since the eruption of conflict face violence, poverty and food insecurity, the number of internally displaced people continues to increase. Close to 130,000 people fled their homes in northern and central Mali in 2018 due to intercommunal clashes, a rise in armed groups and military operations. Humanitarian needs are staggering: the UN estimates that about 3.9 million people are in need of assistance in 2019.
People we helped in Mali in 2019
We strive to provide lifesaving short-term and long-term aid to displaced people in Mali, as well as the most vulnerable among those who stayed put.
Given the diminishing donor attention on Mali, we advocate for displacement issues, humanitarian needs and access to be central to humanitarian and development discussions at international level.
More than 100 schools have shut down and over 330,000 children are being deprived of their education in Mali. We work together with local communities, parents and education authorities to provide quality education to children and youth affected by displacement and conflict. Our education teams:
- provide catch-up classes for out-of-school children, giving them an opportunity to jump back into the formal education system
- support community-based learning in areas where no schools are functional
- provide vocational training for vulnerable youth, so that they can earn a living
- support the formal education system through teacher training and distribution of school materials
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
We provide legal assistance to conflict-affected people through our services in central and northern Mali. By using mobile teams, we also extend our assistance beyond these areas. We:
- help people to acquire civil documentation, such as identity cards and birth certificates, so that adults can access basic services, and children can be enrolled in schools
- give training to local authorities on the needs and rights of internally displaced people
- help internally displaced people and returnees to access their land and property rights by assisting those who have lost their documentation or whose claims to land are contested
Livelihoods and food security
In the regions most affected by displacement and food insecurity, our teams:
- build stores in vulnerable communities and supply them with grain
- help people earn a living and rebuild their future through income-generating opportunities like community gardens, village savings and loans associations
Shelter and settlements
Our shelter teams:
- provide emergency assistance to people affected by displacement by handing out essential household items like blankets, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, clothes and soap
Our shelter activities also go hand in hand with our education activities. We:
- construct and rehabilitate schools, classrooms and latrines in areas where we have education activities to make sure that children have a friendly and safe learning environment
Humanitarian mediation and protection
Conflicts between communities are an important part of the humanitarian crisis in Mali. These conflicts generally stem from small disputes related to land ownership and the sharing of natural resources that have become scarce because of the climatic effects and conflicts limiting the movement of populations in remote areas.
Our humanitarian mediation teams:
- prevent and resolve conflicts between communities through a neutral restoration of communication between the parties to a conflict
- hold regular training sessions for local actors involved in conflict resolution
- ensure regular monitoring of the implementation of action plans drawn up by the parties to a conflict following mediation
All these activities, among others, are carried out in order to strengthen the protection of civilians in Mali.
- Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)
- Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA)
- United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
- Food for Peace (FFP)
- European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)
- EU Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO)
- Agence Française de Développement (AFD)
- Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad)
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
About NRC in Mali
Covid-19 and conflict forced over 12 million children from school across Africa's Central Sahel region
A staggering 12 million children missed up to four months of school across Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger due to Covid-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, 776,000 children were prevented from attending school the entire year due to insecurity, new figures by the Norwegian Refugee Council have revealed.
Military intervention alone will fail to solve the Sahel crisis
President Emmanuel Macron invited the five G5 West African leaders to the French city of Pau in January to shore up support for international engagement in restive Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. All agreed that more European security support was needed to counter violent extremism in the Central Sahel.
G5 Sahel summit: Civilians should be the priority in military discussions
While countries responsible for the military response to the conflicts in the Sahel meet in France on 13 January, Action Against Hunger (AAH), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Oxfam warn about the insufficient humanitarian aid and lack of protection of civilians.