A United Nations (UN) rights expert has warned that the humanitarian situation in the northern and eastern parts of Mali have deteriorated significantly.
Alioune Tine’s comments in a statement on Thursday follow two deadly attacks in recent days on international forces in Mali, including one suicide bombing in Gao, that left at least two civilians dead and more than 15 injured.
In Menaka, to the east, more than 120 people were also allegedly murdered in a three-week period in April and May, Tine said in a statement, noting that that violent extremists had taken advantage of the lack of basic services “to exploit communities and pit them against each other”.
Some attacks have been attributed to armed groups including the Azawad Salvation Movement (MSA) and the Touareg IMGHAD Self-Defense Group and Allies (GATIA), the UN expert noted.
Amid ongoing insecurity, which has been characterised by kidnappings and targeted killings, according to the Senegalese expert, communities have been displaced and more than 650 schools have been forced to close in central and northern regions, affecting nearly 200,000 children.
There has also been an increasing number of allegations of “serious human rights violations” against the Malian armed forces, Tine said, echoing concerns about anti-terrorist operations “that do not respect international human rights standards”.
On the humanitarian front, over four million people need food aid. The number of people suffering from severe acute malnutrition in 2018 is also set to increase from 163,000 to well over a quarter of a million – including more than 11,000 children under five.