The UN Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) said Friday it has “growing concerns” about grave violations against children, such as the unprecedented killing of 46 children in the March 23 attack in Bankass, along with school closures.
“In Mali, the sharp deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the central region of Mopti, which is due to inter-communal violence and the presence of armed groups are increasingly affecting the most vulnerable children,” said Christophe Boulierac, UNICEF spokesperson in Geneva at a UN briefing here.
In addition to “growing concerns about grave violations against children, such as the killing of the 46 children in Bankass,” UNICEF said it is particularly concerned about the increase in school closures.
Citing Mali government and IOM figures, UNICEF said nearly 70,000 displaced people are registered in the Mopti region, mainly in areas close to the border with Burkina Faso, an increase of more than 13,000 people since the end of 2018.
On April 19, Malian Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and his government submitted a letter of resignation following a motion of no confidence over the brutal violence in one village of the country, according to the presidential office.
Mali has experienced massive attacks by armed groups since Islamist extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the country’s restive north since 2012.
Throughout the 2018/2019 school year, UNICEF and partners have observed a systematic and steady increase of school closures in Mopti.
At the end of March 2019, 525 schools were closed in the region of Mopti (out of 866 schools closed in the country).
“Nearly a third of all schools in the Mopti region are now closed due to insecurity, compromising the right to education of over 157,000 children, out of a total of 260,000 children affected by school closures in Mali,” said Boulierac.
He explained that school closures are linked to the overall deterioration of the security situation in Mopti.
These are explicitly linked to direct and indirect threats to communities, schools, and teachers, though other factors such as a lack of pedagogical material or the absence or displacement of teachers are also at play.
UNICEF said it is working closely with the education cluster and the Mali Ministry of Education to provide constant learning for affected children through temporary mechanisms such as informal community learning centers.