A recent UNICEF report reveals a dramatic increase in the number of children murdered, maimed, or recruited into armed groups, in the Republic of Mali.
It all started in 2012 with the military coup that deposed Mali’s President, Amadou Touré.
Since then, things have gone from bad to worse in this West African country: ethnic militias and military forces regularly attack towns and villages. Civilians, many of them children, get caught in the crossfire.
The facts and figures
More than 150 children were killed in the first six months of this year alone. That’s twice the number who lost their lives during the whole of 2018. Many others have been injured, orphaned, or forcibly recruited by the various armed factions active in the country.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, nearly 400,000 children are in urgent need of assistance. As the armed crisis escalates, young children are often separated from their families, exposed to violence of all kinds, and suffer unspeakable psychological traumas as a result.
A lengthening drought in the region, and the subsequent food crisis, has led to an increase in cases of child malnutrition as well.
Almost 70% of the population of Mali is under the age of 25. With most schools in the country closed because of the conflict, nearly 200,000 children and young people have been left without access to basic education.
The aid efforts
UNICEF is working with local authorities and partners, doing what it can to provide medical and psychosocial assistance to these children, including helping former child soldiers with social reintegration and, when possible, promoting reunification with their families.
According to the same United Nations Agency, unfortunately, the operations of aid to the population of Mali are among the least economically supported in the world.