Tens of thousands of villagers have been driven to flee elsewhere in Mali or to neighboring Niger after losing their livestock and all their belongings in attacks since March in the Ménaka and Gao regions, the rights organization says. of Human Rights Watch in a report.
She points out that the abuses have largely targeted the Daoussahak, a Tuareg tribe. She also points out that large swaths of territory have come under the control of groups affiliated with the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS).
The Malian government should do more to protect villagers particularly at risk of attacks
Human Rights Watch
The jihadists “carried out terrifying and seemingly coordinated attacks on villages, massacring civilians, looting homes and destroying property”says HRW.
“The Malian government should do more to protect villagers particularly at risk of attack, and provide them with greater assistance”said HRW official Jehanne Henry, quoted in a press release.
These words contradict those of the soldiers who took power by force in 2020 in this country shaken since 2012 by violence and the spread of jihadism. The Malian authorities have turned away for a year from the French ally and its partners, and turned towards Russia. They repeat that they have reversed the security trend and have routed the jihadist groups.
On Wednesday, US Under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, back from the Sahel, said security had deteriorated considerably in Mali since the junta called in, according to the United States and its allies, mercenaries from the Russian company Wagner in 2021.
Extended action area
HRW details, with supporting testimony, attacks in thirteen localities following a similar modus operandi. In Inkalafane (Ménaka region) on March 28, “a large group of armed men arrived in an armed vehicle and on a motorcycle”. They killed 35 civilians, says a 55-year-old shepherd.
The security situation has deteriorated significantly over the past eight months in the regions of Ménaka and Gao following an ISGS offensive beyond what was then its area of action and influence.
The jihadists first stormed the huge and desert region of Ménaka in March and April. The EIGS then directed its fire further west, in the Gao region. Attacks were reported around the regional capital, and for the first time a major locality, Talataye, was stormed and temporarily controlled by ISGS in September.
HRW writes that this outbreak of violence coincides with the withdrawal from Mali of the French anti-jihadist force Barkhane, initially pushed by the junta.
Establishing precise assessments of the victims of these attacks is extremely difficult in the absence of reliable feedback from largely inaccessible territories.
The UN mission in Mali (Minusma) should meanwhile “intensify its patrols, deterrent flights and interactions with affected communities”, says HRW. The Minusma complains of the obstacles put by the Malian authorities to its operations.