May 22, 2012WaterAid has had to suspend some of its operations in northern Mali as a result of the violence that has ensued since separatist Tuareg rebels, Islamist armed groups, and Arab militias seized control of the region in April 2012. They have committed numerous war crimes, including rape, use of child soldiers, and pillaging of hospitals, schools, aid agencies, and government buildings.
Violence in Mali halts some of WaterAid's programs
WaterAid’s program activities in Gao and Timbuktu have been suspended, while our activities continue in Koulikoro, Ségou, and in Mopti Regions and also in the capital, Bamako.
A child drinking unsafe water in Mali.
WaterAid / Layton Thompson
In response to the crisis WaterAid has commissioned a study on the implications of this situation on the water and sanitation sector. The analysis was done in a participatory way with all WaterAid’s partners involved: NGOs, civil society organizations, local authorities and state engineering departments.
The study results will be used to review WaterAid’s plans for water, hygiene and sanitation service delivery to vulnerable populations in the country and our associated advocacy and communication policies.
In the regions where we have suspended work we are planning how to intervene to meet the emergency water and sanitation needs of people living there. Families displaced by the crisis are living on temporary sites without access to clean water or adequate sanitation. This is leading to the spread of water-related diseases, especially amongst children. Children have also been withdrawn from school. WaterAid has planned a humanitarian response in the District of Bamako through the CAP (Joint Consolidated Appeal).
Armed groups in northern Mali in recent weeks have terrorized civilians.
- Corinne Dufka, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.
WaterAid is also working with other civil society organizations on crisis advocacy activities that will highlight displaced people’s needs for safe water and sanitation.
The possibility of intervention in partnership with local, national and international NGOs in the northern occupied regions and parts of Mopti is being investigated. The focus is on analyzing the situation in order to more accurately estimate people's needs. Mopti is the first major city to host the displaced people and there are reports of needs for better water and sanitation facilities there. With the rainy season upon us, conditions may deteriorate as more people are displaced.
According to Human Rights Watch, Malian army soldiers have arbitrarily detained and, in some instances, summarily executed ethnic Tuareg members of the security services and civilians. “Armed groups in northern Mali in recent weeks have terrorized civilians by committing abductions and looting hospitals,” said Corinne Dufka, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The commanders of these groups need to stop the abuses, ensure discipline over their fighters, and appropriately punish those in their ranks responsible for these crimes.”
A senior United Nations official also strongly condemned the reported acts of sexual violence committed against Malian women and girls amid the renewed fighting in the north, and called on all parties to respect their obligations under human rights law.
“As unrest continues in northern Mali, an alarming number of acts of sexual violence have been reported,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström. “Allegations include abductions, public rapes and subjecting women and girls to acts of sexual violence in front of family members.”
WaterAid is monitoring the ongoing situation and will continue to provide services where it can during this period of unrest.