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 fled 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 government. Since then, authorities have gradually returned to the north, providing basic services in the largest towns. But many remote areas still lack basic services, like healthcare and education. On top of this, conflicts have increased exponentially in the central regions.
Since the eruption of conflict, those who remained have faced violence, poverty and food insecurity, yet the number of internally displaced people continues to increase. Over 290,000 people fled their homes in northern and central Mali in 2020 due to intercommunal clashes, a rise in armed groups and military operations. In addition, there are 47,000 refugees in Mali. Humanitarian needs are staggering: the UN estimated that over 6.8 million people needed assistance in 2020.
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 remain.
We advocate for the international community to increase engagement in Mali, focusing not only on security, but also on humanitarian access and the needs of those affected by displacement.
In 2020, more than 1,344 schools shut down and over 403,200 children were 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 loan 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 have contributed to 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.
Rapid response mechanism (RRM)
Through RRM, NRC addresses the urgent needs of populations affected by sudden shocks, such as displacement due to violence. Following a multisector rapid assessment to identify the needs, NRC distributes immediate relief assistance before regular humanitarian programming takes on the next steps.
- 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
Teachers and peace promotion in Mali
Despite the various challenges they face, teachers are showing an incredible dedication to their profession, writes Leandro Salazar-Lievano, our education expert deployed to UNHCR Mali.
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