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Mali: UNHCR Operational Update, January 2018

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Situation Report
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Mali continues to face a volatile security situation amid growing threats of terrorism, criminality and intercommunity tensions in the northern and central regions.

Local populations face important protection risks amid limited access to public services, documentation, shelter, water, education and food security.

Despite significant challenges, the implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Accord advances slowly in order to re-establish peace and security in the region.

KEY INDICATORS

  • 14 Sensitization sessions on SGBV were carried-out reaching at least 520 returnee men and women and local communities.

  • 69 Protection Incidents related to extortion, injuries and deaths, were collected and documented.

  • 371 People on the move were identified by protection monitors in Bamako, Gao, Mopti and Timbuktu

Update on Achievements

Operational Context

■ The security situation in Mali remains volatile with threats of terrorism, criminality and intercommunity violence in the north and central regions impacting the protection environment for civilians and limiting humanitarian access. Violation of human rights continue to be recorded with local populations facing limited access to public services, documentation, water, education and food security.

■ The humanitarian aid is frequently blocked or slowed down due to the security situation notably in the center and northern region of the Mali. Aid workers often face issues when planning or attempting to reach local populations to provide the required assistance.

■ Following the resignation of the Malian Prime Minister, Abdoulaye Idrissa Maiga, and the appointment of Soumeylou Boubèye Maiga on 30th December 2017, the latter asserted that he is ready to take "strong measures" to reinforce the security of Malians, especially in the central region of the country faced with a rise in violence and unrest. This statement was made during an interview with AFP on 7th January. Furthermore, the newly appointed government was highlighted by other notable reshuffles. For instance, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdoulaye Diop, was replaced by Tieman Hubert Coulibaly, former Minister of Territorial Administration. The newly formed government includes the creation of new entities, such as the Ministry of Local Development and the Ministry of Local Government.

■ On 8 th January, a ministerial meeting on the operationalization of the G5 joint force was held, as a follow-up on the high-level meeting that took place in France, on 13th December 2017. According to the G5 Sahel Permanent Secretary, Najim El Hadj Mohamed, this meeting discussed, among other topics, mechanisms for creating mobilization of contributions to the joint force, the organization and functioning of the Support Force and Control Committees, as well as the establishment of a communication and information mechanism and the preparation of several other upcoming meetings.

■ On 19th January, the Malian authorities addressed a letter to the Nigerian Government to organize of a high-level meeting in Niamey on 22nd and 23rd February 2018, involving Malian refugees’ countries of asylum (Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania) and UNHCR.
This meeting will focus on the security problem of Malian refugees and the acceleration of their organized repatriation.

■ On 25th January a transport vehicle from Burkina Faso on its way to a fair in Boni village in Mopti region was blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED). Furthermore, a second fully burned vehicle belonging to a Burkinabe individual was also found near. According to media reports, there was a death toll of 26 civilians, including 16 men, 06 women and 04 children. It should be noted that the victims are of Malian and Burkinabe nationalities.
Among these victims, three Malian refugees - (02 from the Mentao camp and 01 recorded in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) - were identified by their proGres identifiers. This calamity confirmed that Malian refugees continue commuting between Mali and Burkina Faso, as part of their commercial activities. Although several raising awareness campaigns were carried out on the problem of landmines and road hazards, it is crucial to strengthen refugees' understanding of the Sahel’s precarious security situation.

■ According to reports filtering from MINUSMA, their Sector North advanced post, located 4 km north-east of Kidal camp came under direct fire from unidentified assailants on 9th January 2018; the second advanced post at 3 km east of MINUSMA camp was also attacked. No injuries were reported.

■ On the same day, a National Guard patrol came under direct fire attack near Diablo village, approximately 4 km south of Djenné Commune in Mopti Region. Initial reports indicated that one gendarme was killed, five others were seriously injured and a was vehicle burnt.

■ On 10 January, a MINUSMA Force escorting a logistic convoy from Tessalit to Aguelhok, hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) damaging the armed personnel carrier (APC).

■ On 27th January, FAMa (Malian Armed Forces) soldiers were attacked in Soumpi (Timbuktu). As indicated by the Malian Armed Forces through their social networks, 14 persons were killed, while 18 others were injured. Reportedly, this event provoked a state of fear and panic among the inhabitants of Soumpi.

■ On 28th January, a group of violent persons attacked a National Guard camp in Menaka, in an area close to the Niger border and around 700km east of Timbuktu. According to reports, the attack left at least 4 dead Malian military soldiers.

■ On 4 th January, a meeting was held between UNHCR’s Representative in Mali, Ms. Angèle Djohossou and the Minister of Malians Abroad and African Integration, Dr. Abdramane Sylla. During this meeting, discussions revolved around collaboration between the Government of Mali and UNHCR in the context of mixed migration. Both parties expressed interest in this cooperation and urged their respective technical teams to act accordingly.

■ Following arrivals of Burkinabe populations to Malian lands in the region of Timbuktu, fleeing Military operations around the border strip, a team composed of UNHCR and governmental agents carried-out a mission to two sites in the commune of Gossi, Timbuktu on 20th January. UNHCR is following-up on the issue with the relevant counterparts to provide the required assistance to the persons in need. The expressed needs were food, non-food and core relief items, emergency shelters and health care. Due to the ongoing registration activities, figures will be shared later.

■ On 20th January, a meeting was held with WFP and UNICEF to discuss the situation of the displaced persons from Burkina Faso, currently in Gossi. The gathering also touched upon organizing a joint mission to assess the needs of these populations. WFP and UNICEF have indicated their availability to participate in the mission once the date is set.

■ The need to uphold humanitarian principles remains of utmost importance to counter the shrinking of humanitarian space to conduct life-saving activities. Incorporating protection mainstreaming principles and promoting a meaningful access, safety and dignity for humanitarian aid remains key to humanitarian actors.