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Mali: Increased tension between armed groups limits access in Northern Mali

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Source: Danish Refugee Council
Country: Mali

The breakdown of the ceasefire agreement between separatist groups and the Malian government has led to increased incidents of armed groups competing for power and territorial control. Clashes between these groups have caused delays and suspension of some humanitarian activities.

The delivery of government services continues to be weak in many areas of northern Mali. The region is therefore highly dependent on humanitarian aid. The targeting of civilians is less systematic now than during the eruption of the crisis in 2013. The ongoing violence, however, contributes to an overall insecurity and continuing displacements of civilians.

“The access to assistance the Malians require has been reduced, and the physical access of DRC has been significantly impeded as the peace negotiations continue in Algeria. Despite the difficult security conditions, DRC continues to implement its emergency safety net program in Northern Mali and provides 20.500 persons with food items through a food distribution program,” says Dominique Koffy, DRC country director in Mali and Burkina Faso.

The capacity of the armed groups, in terms of weaponry as well as tactical skill, appears to be increasing, as rocket and IED attacks seem to be hitting their target with ever greater precision. At the same time, new armed groups are being created.

The increased activity of other armed actors in parts of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu regions has made these areas increasingly difficult to reach. There are no security guarantees, and humanitarian access has diminished significantly. Command and control structures have been weakened by internal competition for leadership and shifting alliances. Over the past months, humanitarian organizations have become the target of car hijackings.

“These challenges have led DRC to a number of adaptations used to mitigate risk. These include the creation of new sub bases in strategic areas to decrease travel distance for staff and goods, designation of certain dangerous routes as ‘no go’ areas, increased effort to hire staff at the very local level and greater investment in local acceptance strategies,” says Dominique Koffy.

The adaptations have been relatively effective. However, they require time and resources, and that means the cost to adapt continues to grow. Therefore, there is an urgent need for contingency funding as well as flexible funding in order for DRC to continue to deliver assistance in a safe and reliable way.


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