The beginning of 2019 saw continued incidents of insecurity in the Sahel region. The security situation in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali remained volatile with threats of terrorism, criminality and intercommunity violence, within the countries and along border areas. This situation is impacting negatively on the protection environment for civilians and limiting humanitarian access. The prevailing insecurity and violence is likely to continue,resulting in worsening levels of vulnerability among populations of concern and additional displacement. Although some timid returns of Malian refugees have been observed from Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania, large-scale returns are not foreseen in 2019 given that conditions for a safe and dignified return are not condusive.
KEY STATISTICS (AS OF 31 MARCH)
137,975 Malian refugees in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger
8,457 Burkinabe refugees in Mali
304,933 Internally Displaced Persons in Burkina Faso (135,589 IDPs) and Mali (99,039 IDPs) and Niger (70,035 IDPs)
sources: UNHCR and Governments
On 23 March, an attack on a Fulani village in central Mali left over 160 people dead and 55 seriously wounded. According to survivors, armed ethnic Dogon hunters raided their Ogossagou village in the early hours, killing people, burning houses and other property.
The attack has also forced several people to be displaced internally and across the border in Burkina Faso.
UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection (AHC-P), Volker Türk, visited Mali (5-7 February) and Mauritania (17-20 Feb). The focus of the mission was on the displacement situation in the two countries and related protection and security challenges. In Mali, the AHC-P went to Kayes where he met with refugees from Mauritania and to Timbuktu where he met IDPs, refugee and IDP returnees as well as refugees from Burkina Faso. In Mauritania, the AHC-P visited Mbera camp, host to some 57,000 Malian refugees. During field visits in both countries, the AHC-P also met with key line ministries, local authorities and partners.