Photo: NRC/Ingrid Prestetun
Read caption Photo: NRC/Ingrid Prestetun

NRC in Mali

Violence and attacks by armed and radical groups have forced thousands of Malians to flee their homes. NRC strives to meet the needs of those affected.


Total # of refugees from the country:
Total # of refugees to the country:
Total # of internally displaced:
New refugees from the country in 2016:
New refugees to the country in 2016:
New internally displaced in 2016:
Source: UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). The figures are from the beginning of 2017.


In 2016 NRC reached


Individuals, with education, food security, shelter and ICLA in Mali.


Humanitarian and political background

In 2012, when radical groups took control of Mali's northern regions, more than half a million Malians were displaced from their homes. 150,000 escaped to neighbouring countries, and roughly 350,000 became displaced inside Mali.

Contested control and fragile government

In 2013, French military forces retook control of key areas in the north from radical groups. However, armed groups seeking independence for the north continued to destabilise the area. As a result, the UN deployed a peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) to help restore state authority in the north.

Displaced Malians began returning to their home areas. A successful presidential election in late 2013 and the beginning of peace negotiations between armed groups and the government in early 2014 led to hopes of long-lasting peace.

Yet the peace negotiations proved difficult. Conflict between groups seeking independence for the north and the central government continued, leaving hundreds of thousands of people unable to return home.

On 20 June 2015, a peace agreement was finally signed between the two major armed coalitions and the Malian government. Since then, state authorities have gradually returned to the north, providing basic state services in the largest towns. However, there are still limited peace dividends and many remote areas have inadequate or no basic services, such as healthcare and education.

Those who have stayed put since the eruption of conflict are vulnerable to violence, extreme poverty, chronic food insecurity, discrimination, and lack of protection.

Lack of funding

Despite the large humanitarian needs, funding for Mali has fallen sharply. The 2016 Mali Strategic Response Plan (SRP) is only funded at 25 per cent, making Mali one of the most underfunded humanitarian appeals in the world.

We are worried that international aid groups and donors are forgetting us here in Mali. We know the situation is bad in other places of the world as well, but this conflict has left us with nothing. Our people are struggling to rebuild their homes and their lives. We need your help.

Community leaders in Timbuktu speaking with NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland on his visit in 2014.

People we helped in Burkina Faso and Mali in 2015

people benefited from our education programme
people benefited from our food security programme
people benefited from our shelter programme
people benefited from our ICLA programme


NRC in Mali

From our four field offices in Mali, NRC strives to meet the basic needs of people affected by violence and displacement.

We provide education, shelter, food security, and give people legal assistance. Since 2016, we also have a dedicated emergency response mechanism.

In Mali, we have offices in Gao, Timbuktu, Mopti, and Kidal.



We work together with local communities and education authorities to provide education to children and youth affected by displacement and conflict.

Our education activities:

  • Aim to increase children and youth's access to quality education.
  • Provide accelerated education programmes for out-of-school children and vocational training for vulnerable youth.
  • Support the formal education system through teacher training and school kit distribution.
  • Support community-based learning in areas where no schools are functional.
  • Construct and renovate schools and classrooms.


Food security

We support people affected by conflict with food assistance.

Through our food security activities, we:

  • In collaboration with the World Food Program, we distribute food to people who don’t have enough in the north.
  •  We also assist families facing food shortages with food vouchers, redeemable for staple goods.
  • The programme also supports income-generating opportunities for vulnerable households.

  • From this year, we are also working on village savings and loans to help people earn a living.



We support the construction and renovation of vulnerable people's homes and help restore schools destroyed by the conflict.

Through our shelter activities, we:

  •  Construct and rehabilitate schools, classrooms and latrines in areas where we have Education activities. 


Information, Counselling and Legal Assistance (ICLA)

We provide legal assistance to conflict-affected people through our services in three regions in central and northern Mali. By using mobile teams, we also extend our assistance beyond these areas.

Our ICLA activities aim to:

  • Help people affected by conflict acquire civil documentation, such as identity cards and birth certificates.
  • Give training to local authorities on the needs and rights of internally displaced people (IDPs).
  • Help IDPs and returnees access their property rights by assisting those who have lost their documentation or whose claims to land are contested.


Emergency response

We manage a rapid response mechanism funded by the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO). This mechanism is equipped to assist newly displaced families in northern Mali with emergency water, food and shelter within a week of crisis, whether due to conflict or natural disaster.

NRC Mali has also been running shelter and education programmes for Malian refugees in Burkina Faso. As a result of the gradual return of refugees to Mali, as well as the decreasing funding allocated to the refugee crisis in Burkina Faso, NRC closed its mission in the country in March 2017, while continuing its humanitarian efforts in Mali.

International staff
Field offices
Mopti, Timbuktu and Gao
National staff

NRC in Mali

Country Director (Interim)

Niamh Murnaghan