Sharp increase in grave violations against children in Mali, warns UNICEF

13 August 2019
Mali. A girl stands using a crutch.
A displaced girl uses a crutch to walk around a displacement camp in Sévaré, Mali.

BAMAKO/DAKAR/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 13 August 2019 – There has been a sharp increase in grave violations committed against children in 2019 in Mali, particularly in killing and maiming, UNICEF and child protection partners warned today. Preliminary data recorded by the United Nations show that more than 150 children were killed in the first half of 2019 and 75 were injured in violent attacks. Recruitment and use of children in armed groups doubled in comparison to the same period in 2018, and more than 900 schools remain closed due to insecurity.

“As violence continues to spread in Mali, children are more and more at risk of death, maiming, and recruitment into armed groups,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “We must not accept the suffering of children as the new normal. All parties must stop attacks on children and take all necessary measures to keep them out of harm’s way, in line with international human rights and humanitarian law. Children should be going to school and playing with their friends, not worrying about attacks or being forced to fight.”

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 inter-communal 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.

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.

“The needs of Mali’s most vulnerable children are tremendous,” noted Lucia Elmi, UNICEF Representative in Mali. “UNICEF and child protection partners need more support to provide critical protection services to the children who need it most.”

The crisis in Mali remains one of the least funded in the world. From 2016 to 2018, UNICEF’s child protection in emergencies programme in Mali was only 26 per cent funded. In 2019, UNICEF is requesting US$4 million to meet the child protection needs of children and women in Mali.

In Mali, UNICEF works with the Government of Mali, the United Nations family, the humanitarian community and the Child Protection sub cluster to deliver protection services to conflict-affected children.


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