The United Nations Human Rights Office reports an alarming surge of intercommunal violence in Mali’s central Mopti region. The U.N. says hundreds have been killed in recent months as Fulani herders and Bambara and Dogon farmers fight over land and water resources.
But the spokesman for the U.N. Human Rights Office, Rupert Colville, says the current intercommunal violence has taken a particularly nasty turn.
“In recent weeks, U.N. human rights staff in the country have documented an alarming trend of civilians being driven from their homes, either after being directly targeted themselves, because of the community they belong to, or after deadly attacks on members of their community in neighboring villages,” Colville said.
Colville says MINUSMA, the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, has documented 99 incidents of intercommunal violence since the beginning of the year, resulting in at least 289 civilian deaths. He says three-quarters have occurred in Mopti — the vast majority since May.
The ethnic groups accuse each other of having ties with al-Qaida-linked terrorists who have been operating in the region since 2012.
MINUSMA has documented dozens of particularly brutal attacks in villages, mosques and homes, according to Colville. He says civilians — young children and elderly alike — have been shot, and in some cases burnt alive inside their homes.
“This escalating violence in parts of the Mopti region has led to widespread displacement of a civilian population already vulnerable due to a lack of protection and basic social services provided by the state,” Colville said.
The U.N. Human Rights Office is calling on Malian authorities to take urgent measures to prevent further serious violations and abuses of human rights in the region, including those committed by government forces.