Read caption Sandi Ag Mohamed fled from Bankass in Mopti region to Tina Djorof in Timbuktu region, after 134 people were killed in a village in the Bankass district, where he is from. Photo Credit: Itunu Kuku/NRC

On-the-record update for the crisis in central and northern Mali

Published 10. Jul 2019
The ongoing cycle of attacks and retaliation between communities in central and northern Mali is taking a toll on civilians, causing a spike in displacement and humanitarian needs. 202,000 people have been newly displaced since the beginning of the year, according to the latest numbers provided by the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM). Attacks by armed groups and militias, military operations, and direct threats against civilians are the main drivers of displacement.

Quotes from Hassane Hamadou, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Mali:

“The first victims of this cycle of violence are civilians. They are killed, they are maimed, they are threatened; and their only chance of survival is to flee. Today, people are caught between armed groups, self-defence militias, and military forces.”

“The protection of civilians is a major concern, especially in places where the state authority has been absent. Humanitarian actors should be given unrestricted access to these people to deliver aid and ensure their protection.”

Quote from Sandi Ag Mohamed, a displaced man from Mopti region currently seeking safety in Timbuktu:

“We fled because of the killings, because of livestock theft, and the sound of guns. Our homes were burned down and our belongings were stolen. On one hand, communities are attacking each other, and on the other hand military forces and armed groups are fighting each other. That’s why we fled. It was a painful journey. We had no money to take a bus so we used our cart and donkeys to transport us. Others walked several days and nights to get here.”

Latest updates:
  • 202,000 people have fled violence in Mali since January 2019. This is close to a six-fold increase compared to the same period last year, when 36,000 people were newly displaced. Attacks by armed groups and militias as well as military operations were cited by displaced persons as the main drivers of displacement (RRM).

  • The regions of Gao, Mopti, Timbuktu, and Menaka records the highest numbers of displacements, accounting for 95 per cent of the total (RRM, July 4, 2019).

  • In the first six months of 2019, nearly 600 civilians were killed, the large majority of these killings took place in the Mopti region (ACLED).

  • On June 28, the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, was renewed for an additional twelve months. The force’s mandate was expanded to facilitate the implementation of a global strategy aimed at protecting civilians, reducing intercommunal violence, and helping re-establish the authority and the presence of the central government in central Mali.

  • Several inter-ethnic attacks were reported throughout the month of June. The latest took place on June 30 in Ouenkoro, Mopti region. An attack by armed militia groups reportedly killed between six and 26 civilians. Local authorities also estimate that 800 people fled. Earlier that same month, 35 civilians were reported killed in Yoro while 38 were killed in Gangafani, in Mopti region.

  • These attacks are causing a spike in humanitarian needs, especially protection and psycho-social support for women and children traumatised and shocked by what they witnessed. Important needs in health, nutrition, and education have also been recorded.
  • Protection incidents have soared with threats to civilians making up 45 per cent of protection cases in Mali. Ninety-six percent of those cases have taken place in the Mopti region and are mainly the result of violent extremism and inter-ethnic violence (protection monitoring report, May 2019).

  • 3.8 million people are suffering from or will be at risk of food insecurity during the lean season between June and August. About 548,000 persons will be in urgent need of food. It is unlikely that all those who are in need will be provided with food due to the lack of funding.

  • 926 schools remain closed across Mali, of which 598 are located in the Mopti region alone. In Mopti, 179,000 are not able to pursue their education due to the closures of schools (OCHA).

  • Humanitarian access is becoming a challenge for NGOs in Mali. Impediments to delivery of aid are caused by insecurity, presence of armed groups and improvised explosive devices in central and northern Mali. Checkpoints and roadside checks by self-defence militias are also hindering humanitarian access. The latter is becoming a major impediment to aid delivery.
Note to editors:

Pictures of displaced persons in Mopti and elsewhere can be found here.

B-rolls and log sheet of displaced persons in Mopti and Timbuktu can be found here.

The rapid response mechanism (RRM) is a set of tools to coordinate the humanitarian work and provide critical quick impact, lifesaving, multi-sectorial response to highly vulnerable persons in the absence of other humanitarian presence on the ground. In Mali, the RRM is co-led by Church Relief Services and the Norwegian Refugee Council. The RRM partners also include ACTED, Action Contre la Faim, International Rescue Committee, Solidarités International, Danish Church Aid, Terre des Hommes Suisse, les ONG du Cadre Commun Santé, UNICEF and PAM.

For information or interviews please contact:

Global: NRC media hotline, info@nrc.no, +47 9056 2329

In Paris: Hajer Naili, Regional Media Adviser, naili@nrc.no, +33 6 03 50 53 93

In Bamako: Hassane Hamadou, Country Director at NRC in Mali, hamadou@nrc.no, +223 75 99 54 14