Importing the Malian conflict to the Group of Five Sahel countries,

Dr Grégory Chauzal, Senior Researcher and the Director of the SIPRI Sahel West Africa Programme

Since the fall of the Libyan regime in 2011, multiple and multifaceted crises in the Sahel region have greatly destabilized the local states and weakened already vulnerable populations. Located at the crossroads of three crises axes (Libya–Mali axis, Liptako–Gourma region, Lake Chad basin), Niger is particularly affected by regional instability. The country, particularly the Agadez region, has long served as a major transit hub for sub-Saharan migrants (between 80 000 and 150 000 people per year up until 2015). Niger also hosts the largest number of Malian refugees (58 051 according to the December 2019 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) data), especially from the northern Malian regions of Gao and Timbuktu. This flow of refugees is easily explained by the geographical proximity with Niger and long-standing family, ethnic and economic ties between local communities on both sides of the border. Three main refugee camps were created between March and May 2012 in the country: Tabarey-Barey, Mangaizé and Ayorou in the border region of Tillabéri in northwest Niger. […]

Secondly, for the government of Mali and its international partners, the presence of Malian refugees indicates that long-term stabilization remains strongly dependent on regional solutions. Although they are directly and indirectly victims of the armed conflicts in the Sahel, Malian refugees appear marginalized from the main stabilization strategies and programmes, apart from (urgent) immediate humanitarian assistance. The delays in implementing the 2015 inter-Malian peace agreement and the expansion of the conflict to new areas, for example in Central Mali or the Liptako–Gourma region, are now making their safe return even more problematic. Läs artikel