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Joint Statement on Attacks Against Civilians in Central Mali by the United Nations Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

New York, 12 June 2019 – The three senior UN Officials [i] condemn the unspeakable attack of 9 June 2019 against the village of Sobanou-Kou in the Mopti region of central Mali in which dozens of civilians have been killed, the vast majority being women and children. They deplore the high number of civilian casualties in Mopti region since the beginning of the year, including the 1 January attack against Koulougon village that killed 39 civilians and the 23 March attack against Ogossagou village, in which at least 157 civilians were killed. They call for immediate actions to deescalate tensions, particularly the cycle of intercommunal and ethnic violence and retaliatory attacks that have been unfolding in central Mali. They urge the Malian government to swiftly undertake a credible investigation into all the atrocities committed in Mali and bring the perpetrators to justice.

“It is urgent to prevent further violence and brutality and to protect the civilian population from such grave violations, especially women and children who are among the most vulnerable in times of conflict,” they said. “Accountability is instrumental in the pursuit of peace and stability and the Malian authorities, with the support of the international community, must step up to address the growing insecurity in central Mali.”

The details of this attack have yet to be clarified, but civilians caught in the spiral of violence have been paying a heavy price since 2018, leading to the killing of hundreds of people since the beginning of the year, increasingly framed along ethnic lines.

“As we recently stated in our statement on 27 March following the attack of Ogossagou Peulh village, we are extremely alarmed by the ethnically motivated attacks against civilians in central in Mali as demonstrated in this recent attack against the Dogon community,” the UN Officials stated. “We cannot stand by silently in the face of ethnic-based violence, human rights violations and abuses. We call on the authorities and all parties involved, including the international community, to fulfill their responsibility to prevent atrocity crimes and protect civilians,” the Officials reiterated.

In addition, more than 800 schools remain closed in northern and central Mali, the delivery of humanitarian assistance and protection to thousands of people in need has been hampered, making communities even more vulnerable to instability and exposed to serious violations.

The UN Officials call on the Malian Government, with the support of the international community, to discharge its primary responsibility to protect and address the root causes of violence and ensure that vulnerable population, including boys and girls, are provided with the appropriate protection and assistance. They further stressed that accountability for serious human rights violations, local reconciliation and the full implementation of the peace agreement of 2015 are the only sustainable ways to ensure lasting peace and protection of the civilian population.

[i] The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Adama Dieng, the UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Ms. Karen Smith, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba.