Children Under Attack
The current crisis in Mali has profoundly disrupted the lives of millions of children.
In the first half of 2019, a sharp increase in violations against children was recorded, particularly in the killing and maiming of children. More than 150 children were killed between January and June 2019 - twice as many as in the entire year of 2018 combined. Repeated attacks have led to children losing their lives, being injured by gunshot or burns, being displaced and separated from their families, and being exposed to violence including rape and other forms of sexual violence, arrests and detention, and psychological trauma. Hundreds of children are also estimated to still be in armed groups, and more than 900 schools remain closed due to insecurity. UNICEF is working with other UN agencies, local authorities and NGOs to bring help to the children that need it most.
“The data paints a very disturbing picture of more children being injured in attacks and the consequences are devastating for them and their families.”
The spike in grave violations has led to a dramatic increase in protection needs in the north and the center of Mali. In the region of Mopti, increasing intercommunal violence and the presence of armed groups has resulted in repeated attacks which have led to the killing and maiming of children, their displacement and separation from their families, and their exposure to sexual violence and psychological trauma. Over 377,000 children are estimated to be currently in need of protection assistance in Mali.
"I see bandits in my nightmares. I cannot sleep because I’m worried.”
UNICEF has been working with local authorities and partners to provide medical and psychosocial care for conflict-affected children, to support the release and reintegration of children from armed groups, to reunite separated children with their families, and to provide care for survivors of violence, including sexual violence. In 2019, UNICEF also aims to provide psychosocial support to over 92,000 conflict-affected girls and boys.
Recent news and features
Far from home but ready for school
Leila’s village was attacked and her family fled for their lives, leaving behind everything she knew
I just want to find my father
Like many children affected by the increase in violence in central Mali, Hamadou* had to flee from a raid on his village.
Abdoulaye's family was killed in front of him. He was recruited into an armed group and then was arrested by security forces, who interrogated him about the armed group. When he was released, UNICEF and partners supported him to start a new life through a cash grant which helped him opened up his own boutique in the market of Gao. His biggest wish is to protect other children from what he's been through.
Ahmed’s father was killed in front of his eyes about two months ago in a raid by bandits, who stole everything that his family owns. He now suffers from fear, insomnia and nightmares. UNICEF and child protection partners are helping him process his trauma and supporting his recovery. His one wish is to go back to what it was like before the crisis, when he looked after animals with his father. After his father was killed, he also became the oldest boy in the family and now feels the burden of looking after his mother and his little brothers and sisters.
Fatou, 13, an out-of-school girl in the volatile northern region of Gao, has just given birth. She was homeless for part of her pregnancy and survived attempted sexual assaults. UNICEF and partner NGOs helped reconcile her with her family and reintegrate her back into her home. Conflict and school dropout make girls even more vulnerable to rape and sexual exploitation
Sala was arrested with grown men and thrown in a truck on to broken glass. After three days of driving in the desert, he was so badly injured that his arm and several fingers had to be amputated. He's now safe in a UNICEF-supported shelter where he gets psycho-social support and help with his recovery process. UNICEF and partners are trying to locate his family so he can be reunited.
Wishes of conflict-affected children
UNICEF’s asks to partners
- Commit to publicly advocating for the prevention and the end of grave violations against children
- Pledge to support UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children call for US$4 million to respond to increasing child protection needs of children and women in Mali
- Provide direly needed support to the implementation of the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) of the child protection sub cluster in Mali (US$9 million) for:
- the scale up of age- and gender-sensitive psychosocial support services for conflict-affected children, including through child-friendly spaces
- long-term socio-economic reintegration for children (girls and boys) formerly associated with armed groups and prevention of further recruitment and use
- Multisectoral assistance for survivors of conflict-related gender-based violence
- Support the rapid expansion and availability of safe, temporary learning spaces for displaced and vulnerable children
- Support medium and long-term solutions for the reopening of schools and for ensuring schools are safe, protective zones for learning, in line with the Safe Schools Declaration