On 10 February 2013, French and Malian troops successfully retaliated following a surprise attack by armed militant groups in the town of Gao. It is feared that rebel groups, who are hiding in the bush and desert, will engage in further guerrilla attacks.
In February, two suicide bombings took place on separate occasions at a checkpoint in Gao. A car bomb also exploded on 26 February in the town of Kidal.
On 7 February, the Ministers of Justice, of Women, Children and Family Affairs, of Internal Security, and of Defense, signed the Inter-ministerial Circular on the Prevention, Protection and Return to Families of Children Associated with Armed Forces and Groups. UNICEF provided technical inputs to this important document.
To increase the capacities of host schools accommodating displaced children, UNICEF is installing 10 temporary learning spaces in Mopti in five host schools by the end of February, supporting the return to education for 3,992 students.
In February, UNICEF supported the Ministry of Education to organize a workshop with key members of the Malian education sector on the conditions for the resumption of education activities in conflict affected areas.
On 31 January 2013 the Renewed Efforts Against Child Hunger and Under-Nutrition (REACH) and Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiatives were officially launched in Mali.
Due to the continuing crisis, UNICEF Mali has requested a one-year extension of its 2008-2013 Country Programme. In the meantime, the country programme approach has been revised to integrate humanitarian action and the development agenda, to build stronger community resilience and to foster peacebuilding.