The Malian junta announced Monday evening that it would ban the activities of all non-governmental organizations financed or supported by France, including those operating in the humanitarian field.
This decision is likely to affect many NGOs that France has continued to support despite the abrupt deterioration in relations between the two countries for more than a year.
The interim Prime Minister, Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, justified the decision in a statement posted on social networks by the recent announcement by France that it had suspended its official development assistance to Mali.
The French Foreign Ministry had cited the use of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner by Malian authorities.
The junta, which came to power by force in August 2020, has consistently denied having used this company, whose actions have been criticized in several countries. It speaks of Russian army instructors deployed in the name of a former collaboration between the two countries.
The Quai d'Orsay had specified that France maintained its "humanitarian aid" and some support to Malian civil society organizations.
Colonel Maiga denounced in his statement "fanciful allegations" and a "subterfuge intended to deceive and manipulate national and international public opinion for the purpose of destabilization and isolation of Mali.
"As a result, the transitional government has decided to ban, with immediate effect, all activities carried out by NGOs operating in Mali with funding or with material or technical support from France, including in the humanitarian field," it said.
A multitude of NGOs are working in Mali in the fields of health, food or education. The poor, landlocked country has been facing the spread of jihadism and violence of all kinds since 2012, but also a serious political and humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced by the conflict.
Since May 2021 and a second coup d'état that consolidated their grip, the colonels have turned away from France, which was pushed out and whose last soldier left the country in August after nine years of engagement against the jihadists alongside the Malian army. The colonels have turned militarily and diplomatically to Moscow.
A group of NGOs, including CCFD Terre-Solidaire, Handicap International, Médecins du Monde, and Oxfam, had expressed concern about France's suspension of its aid.
Recipients of a large part of this funding, these NGOs were alarmed in a letter to President Emmanuel Macron that the withdrawal of such funding would lead to "the cessation of essential, even vital activities (...) for the benefit of populations in situations of great fragility or poverty".
They pointed out that 7.5 million Malians were in need of assistance, "or more than 35% of the population", and that Mali was ranked 184th on the Human Development Index.