The Humanitarian Country Team in Mali should develop a plan of action to address the protection and assistance needs of internally displaced people (IDPs) and acutely vulnerable members of the host community.
The United States and other donors must fund a long-term, comprehensive humanitarian program for southern Mali through the 2014 Strategic Response Plan.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partners should develop a global guidance note on best practices in the provision of protection and humanitarian assistance to urban IDPs.
The UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator should support UNHCR in its efforts to secure the human and financial resources necessary to provide robust leadership and coordination of the protection cluster.
The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General/Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator for Mali must continue to defend the Humanitarian Country Team’s position on facilitated returns to the north.
The Malian government should invite the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs to begin consultations on the development of a national IDP policy, which should include local integration options for IDPs wishing to permanently remain in the south.
Despite French and Malian government declarations of success against Islamist insurgents in the north of Mali, successful presidential elections in August, and the partial deployment of the United Nations Multidimensional Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA), security conditions in the country have not yet returned to normal.
Malian government officials have not returned to the north in significant numbers, while basic services in that region remain extremely limited. And yet, donor states and other members of the international community are eager to present northern Mali as a counter-terrorism success story.
This political narrative of stability in the north obscures the urgent need for an ongoing, robust humanitarian response to the plight of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the south of the country. There are an estimated 283,000 IDPs in Mali, most of whom live in the south without adequate protection or assistance. The humanitarian aid currently provided in the south fails to consider the medium-term needs of IDPs or to address basic protection gaps. Donors and humanitarian agencies must focus their attention on the needs of these IDPs and uphold the humanitarian principle of voluntary, safe, and dignified returns.