from RUDD KONTE in Bamako, Mali
BAMAKO, (CAJ News) – THE new sanctions imposed on Mali could have a devastating impact on millions of people dependent on humanitarian aid.
The fear by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) follows the imposition of restrictions by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) after interim authorities’ decision to shelve democratic elections promised for next month.
The European Union (EU) announced plans to support in the implementation of collective sanctions against the volatile West African country.
These include closing borders and imposing a trade embargo as well as cutting off financial aid and freezing the country’s assets at the Central Bank of West African States.
France – in its first weeks of its Presidency of the Council of the European Union – has suspended flights to Mali.
The defiant transition government of Mali has reciprocated, closing its borders with all ECOWAS member states, apart from Guinea.
It recalled several ambassadors with ECOWAS.
Some NGOs fear these sanctions will have devastating consequences for over 7,5 million people – more than a third of the country’s population – in need of humanitarian aid.
Mali already faces the worst food insecurity in ten years, prompting some 13 NGOs to urge all states and bodies supporting sanctions to commit to applying humanitarian exemptions so that life-saving aid can reach all those in need.
“Malians are already bearing the brunt of the humanitarian catastrophe, punctuated by horrifying attacks against civilians,” said Elena Vicario, Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Mali.
“Sanctions must not hold us back from delivering essential assistance in a country where drought, rising insecurity, and the economic impacts of COVID-19 are already pushing millions of Malians over the edge,” Vicario said.
Mali suffered a coup in 2021 when the Malian Army led by Vice President Assimi Goïta captured President Bah N’daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane.
It also is under threat from Islamists perpetrating an insurgency.
– CAJ News