Diakonia - People change the world
Workshop with law and security actors at Segou, Dec 2017


Mali is located in West Africa's inner parts and the country has a rich cultural heritage. During the Middle Ages, the desert town of Timbuktu was known as one of the Muslim world's most important cities of education and music. In terms of the economy, Mali's is one of the poorest countries in Africa and has, for example, very high levels of malnutrition among young children.

Although Mali is a country rich in natural resources, among other things, it is the world's largest gold producer, only a small part of these revenues drop down to the Mali people. The majority of Mali residents work in agriculture with farming or livestock care. At the same time, many people are moving into the cities. The need for clean water and better sanitation is also high. Repeated periods of drought in the Sahel region affect the population strongly.

Click here to read about Diakonia’s other work in Mali.

Conflict and Crisis

Mali experienced a security and institutional crisis resulting from a Tuareg armed rebellion that erupted in the north of the country on January 17, 2012, followed by a military coup in March 2012. During the initial stages of the conflict, 2/3 of the Malian territory was taken over by various armed groups involved including MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), Ansar dine, MUJAO (Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa), AQIM (Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb). In January 2013, the conflict took on a new dimension with the Malian authorities requesting France to intervene.

In response to this multi-dimensional crisis where armed groups with political demands, jihadists, radical Islamist groups, drug traffickers and various criminal networks intermingle. It is within this context that the United Nations Security Council authorized a stabilization mission in Mali (Minusma). The Security Council resolutions 2085 (2012), 2100 (2013) and 2164 (2014), the adoption of a road map by the Malian Parliament on January 29, 2013 and the signing of a preliminary agreement in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso between the Malian government and the Tuareg armed movements on June 18, 2013 ended the institutional crisis through the organization of presidential and legislative elections.

On April 5, 2013, Amnesty International issued a statement calling attention to "a major humanitarian disaster" in northern Mali, saying "all food and medicine stored by major aid agencies has been looted and most humanitarian workers have fled "resulting in populations facing imminent risk of severe food and medical shortages that could lead to further loss of lives[1] ". Between 2012 and 2013, attacks, and the failure to disarm thousands of fighters, aggravated the security situation, creating a precarious climate for civilian human rights in central and northern Mali. Between 2013 and 2014, hundreds of Malians lost their lives because of the poor security condition in the country since 2012. The year 2015 witnessed major terrorist attacks like the Terrace (6 dead) and the Radisson Blu (22 dead) in Bamako and Byblos (13 dead) in Sévaré-Mopti.

After 2015

In 2016, civilians suffered a situation of "neither war nor peace" as the implementation of the 2015 peace agreement to end the military and political crisis in the north of the country was stalled, and armed groups affiliated with Al Qaeda launched dozens of attacks against Malian security forces and international peacekeeping forces, extending their operations to the south. For example, rocket attacks, mine attacks, armed attacks, ambushes, targeted killings and summary executions continued.

 In 2017, more than 200 people died in two and a half months. The region of Mopti in the center of the country has become a deadly spiral where, in lieu of large-scale attacks, targeted killings are committed against traditional, religious and political authorities. Civilians have suffered a growing number of crime incidents, as well as clashes between armed groups. In addition, the year 2017 records a significant loss of lives. Indeed, from January 2017 to date, between 100 and 200 civilian and military were killed [2]  .

Though northern Mali is the center of the violence, it is shifting towards central Mali in the regions of Mopti, Ségou and Sikasso, and even to a lesser extent, eastern Mali, in region of the Kayes. Indeed, the emergence of new armed groups has aggravated the country's fragile situation and the multiplication of conflict zones (in particular by radical groups in the center of the country) and change in modus operandi by these armed groups through the massive use of improvised explosive devices, the dissemination of videos of abducted soldiers and the use of rockets which indicate a tactical change and a relative mastery of explosive device making techniques.

[1] Rapport Amnesty international, avril 2013.

[2] Ch. Sylla, Mali : situation sécuritaire 2017 : une année (déjà) très meurtrière ! journal L’Aube du 16 mars 2017.