Unrest in central Mali, plagued by jihadist attacks and inter-community violence, has killed 580 civilians so far this year, the United Nations said Friday.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, said security was deteriorating and widespread impunity in the west African nation was undermining attempts to protect civilians.
The former Chilean president urged the authorities to launch ‘thorough, impartial and independent investigations’ into all alleged rights abuses.
‘The vicious cycle of retaliatory attacks between Dogon and Peulh militias, coupled with the violations and abuses committed by Malian defence and security forces and armed groups, has created a situation of chronic insecurity for the civilian population, who are not able to count on the protection of the Malian forces,’ said Bachelet.
‘This needs to stop. People need justice, redress and reparations,’ she said.
Clashes between the Peulh, also called Fulani, and Dogon communities have increased in recent months, with community-based militias — initially formed for defence — launching attacks, said Bachelet’s OHCHR office.
From January 1 to June 21, the Human Rights and Protection Division of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali documented 83 incidents of violence across communal lines in central Mali.
Community-based militias from the Peulh group, who are primarily herders, were responsible for at least 71 of these incidents, leading to the deaths of 210 people, said OCHCR.
Those from the Dogon community — mainly farmers and hunters — carried out 12 attacks, leaving at least 82 people dead.
People have also been abducted, displaced or forced to join militias.
Bachelet’s office said the unrest had been ‘fuelled and instrumentalised’ by groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
These armed groups are increasing their presence and were behind 67 killings in central Mali.
Meanwhile some 230 extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions have been attributed to the Malian security forces deployed to the region.
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