Deputy UN chief looks to ‘new dawn for Mali’, promotes participation of women in country’s transition

The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed on Friday has been strongly advocating for the greater participation of women and youth in Mali’s ongoing transition towards a durable peace, and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as she continues her solidarity visit to West Africa and the Sahel.

Continued volatility

Ms. Mohammed’s visit comes as the Central Sahel region is struggling to cope with a burgeoning humanitarian and security crisis: the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Mali increased from 4.3 to 6.8 million between January and August 2020.

In October, Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the countries in the border area between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso are caught in ‘a downward spiral’, amid rising violence, insecurity and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mali, which underwent a military coup in August, has established a new civilian-led transitional authority but remains highly volatile. Eextremist groups have reportedly disregarded the call and urged followers to take advantage of the power vacuum exacerbated by COVID-19, including by spreading disinformation in distressed communities.

Attacks in October killed 12 civilians and at least 11 Malian soldiers killed in separate attacks in the centre of the country. Just three days later, one peacekeeper was killed and another injured in two more incidents.

Last year 81 aid workers were wounded, kidnapped or killed in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, according to the Aid Worker Security Database.