Disaster Needs Analysis: Northern Mali Conflict & Food Insecurity

Crisis Overview

Violence erupted in northern Mali in mid-January when Tuareg-led rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA) launched a bid to create an independent state. The affected areas include Tombouctou, Kidal, Gao, and a part of the Mopti region. The rebellion succeeded expelling Government troops from the area and led to a coup that toppled the Government in Bamako. After MNLA proclaimed the independent state of Azawad in April 2012, the Islamist groups Ansar Dine and MUJAO retook large parts of northern Mali and, with support of Islamic groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), sidelined the MNLA. Currently, various armed groups operate in the north, including religious extremists, secular rebels, secessionists, bandits and criminal enterprises trafficking drugs, people and goods. Extensive human rights abuses have been reported caused both by insecurity and a strict implementation of Sharia law imposed by Islamist rebels. Access to basic services and food is severely hampered. To date, the crisis has displaced over 400,000 people of which 200,000 have fled to neighbouring countries.

The situation has been exacerbated by the Sahel drought which caused high food prices and affected 1.76 million people in the north. Humanitarian access to the region remains limited. Islamic groups restrict international aid, and large areas are characterised by widespread insecurity and lack of basic infrastructure. On 11 November, ECOWAS leaders agreed on deploying an African-led international force in Mali, consisting of 3,300 troops. It is, however, unlikely that this intervention will occur before mid-2013.