Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dr. Nickels said the growth of extremist organizations posed a “significant threat” to the region and beyond. They could provide support to global threats such as al-Qaeda and might eventually make serious attempts to strike beyond Africa, he told me.

But Mr. Melly said that development also had to be part of the solution. While the roots of regional conflicts were complex, he said, “poverty, a lack of economic options and the resulting frustration among young men seeking livelihoods… certainly are a substantial contributor.”

"Insecurity in the Sahel cannot be solved through military measures," he added.

Famine And Climate Change Are Making Africa a Terrorist Tinderbox
Friday, July 25, 2014
Mali : Humanitarian Snapshot (as of 30 June 2014) - pdf

Mali is currently experiencing a sustained but fragile recovery from the series of shocks that occurred over the past three years - a pastoral crisis in 2010, a drought in 2011 and the political and security crisis in 2012 and 2013. 
According to a March 2014 analysis, at that time, more than 1.5 million people were currently in food insecurity in Mali. During the lean season (June through October), this number is expected to increase to 1.9 million people— meaning that 40% of people in the North of the country will have trouble finding their next meal.
The nutrition situation is worrying: this year, an estimated 660,000 children across the country are believed to be at risk of acute malnutrition.
via the World Food Programme

Mali : Humanitarian Snapshot (as of 30 June 2014) - pdf

Mali is currently experiencing a sustained but fragile recovery from the series of shocks that occurred over the past three years - a pastoral crisis in 2010, a drought in 2011 and the political and security crisis in 2012 and 2013. 

According to a March 2014 analysis, at that time, more than 1.5 million people were currently in food insecurity in Mali. During the lean season (June through October), this number is expected to increase to 1.9 million people— meaning that 40% of people in the North of the country will have trouble finding their next meal.

The nutrition situation is worrying: this year, an estimated 660,000 children across the country are believed to be at risk of acute malnutrition.

via the World Food Programme

Thursday, January 23, 2014 Friday, December 13, 2013 Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The monster hasn’t been killed yet. It’s still showing signs of resistance," Keita said, referring to renewed violence in Mali’s north. For example, the French military announced that troops had killed 19 suspected Islamist militants in what it described as an ongoing operation in the region around Timbuktu on Tuesday.

“We must heal these wounds. We must reconcile people to one another,” Keita said, adding that leading the government into a state of stability and integrity was his top priority toward healing his country.

Keita pledged to be a reliable recipient for German aid, describing Mali’s past problems with corruption as something he and his government had left behind “forever.
Germany pledges to stand with Mali as it gets back on its feet
Monday, December 9, 2013 Friday, December 6, 2013

Conflict in Northern Mali: a quick overview

*This post will be updated as events unfold*

Background

Mali is a country in West Africa. It is mostly known to the rest of the world as the home of Timbuktu, a city that was once an extremely important center for Islamic scholarship and major trading center under several African empires.

image

Formerly a French colony, Mali gained its independence in 1960 and was dominated by a dictatorial government until a military coup in 1991 brought democratic rule. Amadou Toumani Touré was elected President in 2002 and re-elected in 2007.

In January 2012, a Tuareg nationalist movement began a rebellion, led by a group called the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). Initially loosely allied with some Islamist groups, MNLA was able to make swift progress in capturing many Northern cities.

In March, government soldiers successfully staged a coup d’etat, ousting President Touré because they were unsatisfied with his handling of the rebellion. An interim government was put in charge.

By April 2012, MNLA took control of the North and declared independence.

Soon conflict began between the MNLA and its former allies, specifically an Islamist group known as Ansar Dine. Ansar Dine is the strongest in terms of political support and territory controlled, and claims to want to turn Mali into an Islamist state. The MNLA lost much of its territory in the clashes with Ansar Dine and its allies.

In January 2013, French forces intervened in the conflict at the behest of the Malian government. They were quickly able to regain territory from the rebels, and began to withdraw a few months later, handing over the reigns to an African contingent of soldiers. A U.N. peacekeeping force was deployed in June.

Tuareg nationalists signed a peace deal with the Malian government in June, paving the way for democratic elections to be held in July 2013. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won the election, which was considered fair and democratic by outside observers.

The conflict has largely been considered to be under control since the signing of the peace deal. However, sporadic violence continues.

The various jihadi groups “are no longer capable of mounting large-scale, co-ordinated strikes”, the French officer said. The local leaders have “gone to ground or left the country”. “Over an area stretching from Mauritania to southern Sudan we shall have to get used to this sort of asymmetric conflict for a long time, it being impossible to eradicate it altogether,” a diplomat said.

(France planning to reduce troops in Mali despite latest joint mission, 11/5/2013)

Now

In November, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) took responsibility for the murders of two French journalists “as a response to the crimes committed by France against the Malians and the work of African and international forces against the Muslims of Azawad.”

On November 29, Tuareg nationalists ended the ceasefire that had been in place since June:

"The political and military wings of the Azawad (MNLA, MAA and HCUA) declare the lifting of the ceasefire with the central government in Bamako," said a statement by Attaye Ag Mohamed, one of the founders of the MNLA groups.

"All our military positions are on alert," he added.

For now, the consequences of ending the ceasefire remain to be seen.

Amadou Sanogo, the ex-leader of the coup that ousted President Touré, has been charged with murder, kidnapping and assassinations. He has been linked to a mass grave discovered this week that is believed to contain the bodies of 21 soldiers.

Human Rights and Humanitarian Concerns

Extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances indicate that soldiers loyal to Sanogo are continuing to target their opponents. Amnesty International also reports that civilians suspected of supporting the militias have been subjected to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances at the hands of the Malian Army.

Torture, deaths and deplorable conditions in prisons have been reported. Detention in unofficial places, a violation of international law, is also a concern.

Child soldiers have been used in the fighting and some are being detained by the military.

Explosives left over from the conflict continue to pose a threat to children, causing many accidental injuries and deaths.

Additional Sources:

BBC News Mali Profile

CIA World Factbook - Mali

Annual Report: Mali 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013
"This election, from a democratic standards point of view, is a success," said the head of the European Union Observer mission, Louis Michel.

“It is an election that allows Mali now to start finishing the process that it has begun: the return to a normal democracy,” he added.
Keita wins Mali election after rival concedes
Monday, July 2, 2012 Thursday, April 12, 2012
“As unrest continues in northern Mali, an alarming number of acts of sexual violence have been reported,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström on 10 April. Wallström stressed that any party to the conflict credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence can be publicly named and shamed by the Secretary-General as a basis for Security Council action.

“Acts of conflict-related sexual violence can constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity for which combatants and their commanders will be held to account,” she said.
Disturbing reports of extreme sexual violence against Malian women and girls
Friday, April 6, 2012 Thursday, March 22, 2012
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