UNICEF and child protection partners Tuesday August 13, cautioned that there has been a sharp increase in severe violations committed against children in 2019 in Mali, particularly in killing and maiming.
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.
Despite France and other Foreign Power’s intervention, children’s rights continue to be violated. Hundreds of thousands of Malian children have not had access to education since the conflict began. These children are surrounded by violence throughout their childhood, which gradually becomes their only kind of education and culture. Thus there is a considerable risk that these children endure severe trauma giving rise to violent behaviour in adulthood.
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.