In Mali: Humanitarian aid, ICC investigation, NGO pullout

A woman who has fled her home in Gao for Bamako, Mali's capital after armed men robbed and assaulted her. Intense fighting between the Malian government and the rebels has caused even aid groups to flee the country's Mopti region for security reasons. Photo by: H. Caux / UNHCR

A European donor announced new humanitarian aid for Mali Wednesday (Jan. 16) amid rising security concerns among aid groups in and around Mopti, where heavy fighting has led some to suspend their operations.

Germany announced €1 million ($1.3 million) in humanitarian assistance to Mali. The money will go to German nongovernmental organization Welthungerhilfe. It is expected to go toward providing blankets, hygiene kits and cooking equipment to refugees that have fled the northern part of the country.

The aid comes at a time of intense fighting between rebels and the Malian government. France has joined the Malian army in fending off the rebels, which have started moving southward toward the capital city of Bamako, the seat of government.

Due to security reasons, a number of aid groups have fled Mopti  a move that has received some criticisms from some of the locals. Catholic Relief Services is among these groups, but it hopes to resume operations after assessing the situation, CRS head in Mali Sean Gallagher has told IRIN.

Also on Wednesday, the International Criminal Court formally opened investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Mali, including murder, torture, extrajudicial killings, rape and use of child soldiers.

“My office will ensure a thorough and impartial investigation and will bring justice to Malian victims by investigating who are the most responsible for these alleged crimes,” ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said.

Amnesty International said it welcomed the news, as the probe presents an “important opportunity to ensure justice for victims of crimes under international law committed over the past year in Mali.”

It remains to be seen if the investigation will even add pressure to those involved in crimes in Mali. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was charged with war crimes and genocide by the same court in 2010, remains free to this day.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.