The upsurge of communal violence in Mali in which at least 160 people have been killed must be followed by fresh international action to stem the bloodshed, says a UN human rights expert.
A series of attacks in the central Mopti region on 23 March was followed by renewed violence on 26 March.
“I am saddened by this violence and wish to express my condolences to the victims and their families for these attacks which have taken place against a backdrop of ongoing community tensions,” said the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the country, Alioune Tine.
“There must be a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. The protection of lives and the well-being of civilians is at stake. I appeal to all security forces on the ground as well as the Malian Armed Forces, and the UN force MINUSMA, to strengthen their efforts to protect civilians.
“It is crucial that these inter-communal tensions, and this cycle of violence, are addressed urgently if the risk of crimes against humanity is to be averted. I call on the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to organise a summit to try to find solutions.”
The violence, in the villages of Ogossagou and Welingara in the central Mopti region on 23 March 2019, also left more than 70 people injured. In the worst single attack, more than 150 Fulani herdsmen were killed, allegedly by members of the Dogon ethnic group. The Independent Expert has also been informed that suspected Fulani armed elements reportedly attacked the Dogon village of Ouadou on 26 March, killing four Dogons and burning several homes and the local population fleeing to neighbouring villages. A separate attack the same day on the Dogon hamlet of Kere Kere led to the killing of at least two women and the abduction of 20 others.
The expert said he was concerned about the creation of community-based self defence armed groups in the region.
“The growth in the number of these groups in the past four years, some of them violent and extremist, as well as the destruction of traditional systems of conflict resolution, and the limited presence of the Malian State, have led to the deterioration of the security situation, which has adversely impacted the enjoyment of basic rights by people in the region,” said Tine.
The Expert noted that since January 2019 there had been reports of at least 22 incidents of human rights violations by these groups, which had resulted in the deaths of at least 230 people.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).