from RUDD KONTE in Bamako, Mali
BAMAKO, (CAJ News) – TENSIONS are rising between displaced people and host communities sharing water, food and land amid conflict and climate crises in Mali and the wider Sahel region.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned that this pressure must be mitigated so that resentment does not blow into conflict.
Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the ICRC, was speaking in Mali during her first operational visit to the troubled Sahel.
“These (displaced) families are desperate for a better way of life,” the envoy said.
“I sat with women who had to bury their children as they were fleeing their village. Many lost husbands and brothers,” Spoljaric said.
Spoljaric lamented that humanitarian assistance was limited, and the displaced families were despondent.
“We have to break this vicious circle of climate change and violence that is preventing people from living on their lands,” she said.
Violence has forced 4,5 million out of their homes in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
This is a 200 percent increase in the past two years.
With 80 percent of the population of the Sahel relying on agriculture to survive, being displaced means they lose access to their lands and their livestock.
Meanwhile, Islamist armed groups in Mali have killed hundreds of people and forced tens of thousands to flee their villages during apparently systematic attacks since March 2022, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
Since early in the year, Islamist armed groups aligned with the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) have attacked dozens of villages and massacred scores of civilians in Mali’s vast northeast regions.
These attacks have largely targeted the Dawsahak, a Tuareg ethnic group.
“The Malian government needs to do more to protect villagers at particular risk of attack and provide them greater assistance,” said Jehanne Henry, senior Africa adviser at HRW.
– CAJ News