Mali: working for peace and a stable democracy
In the wake of violent conflict, Mali is now working towards peace. A wide variety of reconciliation projects are helping along the way.
In 2012, Mali faced a major crisis: a rebellion led to a military coup, following which separatist rebels and Islamic terror groups occupied the North of the country. The situation improved when a new Government was elected in 2013, but implementation of a peace agreement between the Government and armed groups in 2015 has been very slow. Many of Mali’s 18 million inhabitants are traumatised as a result of ongoing violent conflict.
The German Federal Foreign Office (AA) is supporting the Government of Mali in its efforts to restore peace and stability. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is working on the ground to achieve this, with experts cooperating with all sections of the population across the country.
Part of the work focuses on rebuilding trust between opposing population groups in Northern Mali. One approach is dialogue, and GIZ is supporting citizen dialogues in which participants follow a democratic process to agree on shared projects that help achieve reconciliation and social cohesion. By the end of 2017, it is envisaged that at least one project will have been implemented in each of the 19 municipalities of the Northern province of Gao, which is particularly unstable and prone to conflict. These projects improve the conditions under which people live. For example, a basketball court is being renovated: sport was outlawed during the Islamic occupation, but the court now offers a space where former opposing groups can come together.
The main criterion for lasting peace is that individuals are able to process the dreadful things they have experienced. Staff from Mali’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission have therefore received training in interviewing techniques, support for victims and communication techniques. So far, they have documented around 5,500 witness statements relating to serious human rights violations, constituting the basis for resolving crimes such as murder, rape and theft and for negotiating and determining compensation.
GIZ has also been providing support for refurbishing the sole hospital that serves the whole of Northern Mali, located in Gao. Toilets and washrooms are now usable again, and the wing of the building and the inner courtyard no longer flood when it rains. Around 100,000 people benefit from better health care as a result.
The ‘Mali & Germany – partners for peace and stabilisation’ exhibition in Berlin provides further information about the German Government’s initiatives in Mali. The exhibition runs in the atrium of the Federal Foreign Office until 30 November and offers insights into the long-standing and close cooperation between the two countries.