Category Archives: Mali

Mali Confirms New Ebola Case

Posted on in Mali title_rule

Mali has confirmed a new Ebola case, which is separate from its only other case that was detected last month.

Medical sources disclosed late Tuesday that a nurse who had treated a patient from Guinea has died. According to the head of the Pasteur Clinic in Bamako, one of the capital city’s top medical centres, “the nurse who had been in contact with a Guinean national who died of the illness, died in turn,” adding that tests had confirmed the Ebola virus. A doctor at Pasteur Clinic is also suspected of having contracted the virus.

On Wednesday, authorities in Mali quarantined dozens of people at the home of the 25-year-old nurse and at the clinic where he had treated an imam from Guinea who died with Ebola-like symptoms. The imam, who comes from the border town of Kouremale, died on 27 October and was never tested for EVD. Strict burial procedures implemented for the burial of Ebola patients were not imposed during his burial. Concerns are now growing over the time it took between the imam’s passing and the implementation of steps needed in order to contain the disease.

A government statement released Wednesday confirmed that the nurse had tested positive for EVD and that he died late Tuesday. The statement further disclosed that all necessary steps to identify people who had come into contact with the nurse had been taken. According to Ousmane Doumbia, secretary general of the health ministry, 70 people have been quarantined and the Pasteur Clinic has been locked down by police.

Mali is the sixth West African nation to record Ebola. Officials will now be required to trace a new group of contacts, a similar procedure that was taken last month after a two-year-old girl died of the disease in western Mali.


Tagged as: , ,

Ebola Spreads to Sixth Country as Mali Confirms First Case

Posted on in Mali title_rule

Just a week after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it would deploy experts to the Ivory Coast and Mali to test their Ebola-preparedness measures, on Thursday, Mali’s Health Minister confirmed the country’s first Ebola case.

Speaking on state television late Thursday, Malian Health Minister Ousmane Kone confirmed that a two-year-old girl has tested positive for the deadly virus, disclosing that she was currently being treated at a hospital in the western town of Kayes, which is located 600 kilometres (375 miles) from the capital city Bamako. According to the Health Minister, the girl was brought to the Fousseyni Daou hospital on Wednesday, where she was immediately tested for the virus, which came back positive. Reports have indicated that the girl had recently returned from Kissidougou, in neighbouring Guinea, where the Ebola outbreak first emerged last December. Her mother died in Guinea several weeks ago, with the girl recently being brought to Bamako by relatives. She stayed in the Malian capital for ten days, in the Bagadadji neighbourhood, before leaving for Kayes. The child and 43 people who have come into contact with her have been put in quarantine, with the health minister urging anyone who may have had contact with the girl to come forward. A source within the health ministry has reported that the child’s condition is said to be improving.

Mali is now the sixth country in West Africa to be affected by the worst-ever Ebola outbreak, however both Senegal and Nigeria have in the past week been declared Ebola-free by WHO officials. Health officials have long viewed Mali as one of the most vulnerable to Ebola’s spread as the West African country borders both Guinea, which has been one of the hardest-hit countries by the current outbreak, and Senegal. The WHO’s list of fifteen African countries that need to be prepared for a possible Ebola case identified both Mali and the Ivory Coast as top priorities. Last week, WHO officials announced that they will deploy experts to both countries in order to test their Ebola-preparedness measures as both countries are currently at the greatest risk of being the next to be affected by the outbreak. Speaking during a news conference in Geneva last week, Isabell Nuttal, the WHO’s health security response chief disclosed, “as the number of cases is increasing, it wouldn’t be a surprise to have a case in neighbouring countries. And its for this very reason that we are working with them so that they are able to detect and take immediate action,” adding, “border checkpoints and health points have been implemented on the major roads that are crossing between the countries, so it provides a level of reassurance in terms of travelling.” On Sunday, a team of ten experts was set to deploy to Mali, with another team set to deploy to the Ivory Coast in the coming days.

An outbreak of the Ebola virus in Mali would likely severely threaten the country’s already fragile security situation, as Mali is continuing to stabilize after a coup and Islamist militant takeover of its northern region. It could also result in a greater risk to healthcare workers deployed in the country. While several teams of health workers have been attacked in Guinea, with several workers killed in September by locals as they attempted to spread awareness about the deadly virus, terrorist groups operating in the northern regions could target health workers for kidnap-for-ransom or could carry out violent attacks similar to those that targeted polio vaccination workers in Nigeria and Pakistan.

New figures released by the WHO on Wednesday indicate that Ebola has now killed 4,877 people and infected 9,936 across West Africa, with most of the deaths and cases occurring in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The official number of cases and deaths however remains unknown as under-reporting continues to be a major issue in this outbreak, however the WHO indicated last week that the true death toll may be three times as high as the one currently being reported. A separate and unrelated outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa currently appears to have been contained.

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mali Requests Additional UN Troops

Posted on in Mali title_rule

In the wake of a recent upsurge in attacks against United Nations peacekeepers operating in northern Mali, the country’s government has requested that the UN deploy a rapid intervention force aimed at fighting the Islamist militants. The request comes after two separate attacks killed nearly a dozen UN peacekeepers in the past week.

On Wednesday, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulay Diop disclosed in front of the UN Security Council that urgent measures were now needed following the recent killings of UN peacekeepers. He warned that the region once again ran “the risk of becoming the destination of hordes of terrorists,” noting that “urgent measures” were needed to bolster the UN mission, which must have “appropriate means to fulfil its mandate.” The UN’s peacekeeping chief agreed that Malian forces have been unable to fill the gap left by the departure of French troops.

The appeal for more robust action in the northern Malian region comes amidst some of the deadliest violence that has targeted a UN peacekeeping mission in recent years. On Tuesday, a Senegalese soldier was killed just days after nine peacekeepers from Niger were killed by Islamist militants.

According to UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, in all, thirty-one peacekeepers have been killed and 91 injured since the mission, known as MINUSMA, was established in July 2014. According to the chief, UN soldiers operating in the region are now facing “a whole range of threats: rockets fired randomly, mortar shells, suicide attacks, ambushes.” While Malian officials have not disclosed what force they are envisioning the UN will deploy, Mr Ladsous did reveal that in the coming months, the UN mission will be sent combat helicopters and drones.

Some nineteen months after being driven out of northern Mali by a French-led military intervention, a number of Islamist groups have increased their campaign of violence, carrying out roadside bombs, rocket attacks and ambushes on UN peacekeepers operating in the region.   The militants have also begun to target civilians. In September, an ethnic Tuareg civilian, along with four members of his family, was kidnapped near Timbuktu. Reports later surfaced that militants beheaded the man, with relatives indicating that he was killed by members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), who had suspected him of being an informant for international forces in Mali.

While three jihadist groups, AQIM, Ansar Dine and Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) controlled northern Mali for ten months in 2012, before being largely ousted by the French and African troops in January 2013, small pockets of armed militants remain active and continue to carry out deadly attacks in the desert region.

Tagged as: , , ,

Nine UN Peacekeepers Killed in Northern Mali

Posted on in Mali title_rule

In another incident that targeted United Nations peacekeepers in Mali, on Friday nine UN peacekeepers were killed in an ambush on their convoy, the deadliest attack to occur on the UN mission in Mali.

According to Olivier Salgado, spokesman for the mission, the peacekeepers, who were all from neighbouring Niger, came under attack from heavily armed gunmen on motorbikes between the northeastern towns of Menaka and Ansongo. A statement released by the UN mission indicated “this morning, a convoy of MINUSMA peacekeepers from the Nigerien continent was the target of a direct attack while travelling to Indelimane, in the Menaka-Asongo corridor. A provisional toll indicated nine deaths.” UN officials have deployed aircraft to the region to secure the area where the attack took place, just 15 kilometres (9 miles) east of Indelimane.

While MINSUMA officials have not disclosed who was behind Friday’s attack, a UN officer from Niger has indicated that militants from the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), an al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militia, were behind it. Sources have reported that MUJAO recently formed an alliance with militants from the Fulani ethnic group in the Gao region, where Friday’s attack took place. Menaka, an isolated desert town in eastern Mali is used mainly as a temporary refuge for nomadic Tuareg tribes however in May, it was the scene of intense fighting between the Malian government and three main separatist rebel groups.

In recent weeks, attacks on UN peacekeepers have sharply increased. Over the past few weeks, roadside bombs in the Kidal region have killed ten UN peacekeepers, all from Chad. The attacks prompted the government in N’Djamena to issue a statement to the UN indicating that the Chadian contingent of MINUSMA was suffering discrimination. In August, MUJAO claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on a MINUSMA base located close to the border with Algeria. They were also blamed for a suicide attack on August 16 that killed two soldiers from Burkina Faso serving with MINUSMA in the settlement of Ber, near the city of Timbuktu. Friday’s attack further underlines the fact that security in the northern region of Mali continues to be fragile, with militant groups continuing to operate in the region, and carrying out hit-and-run attacks despite the presence of foreign forces.

Tagged as: , , , , , ,

New Peace Talks Set to Begin in Algiers

Posted on in Mali title_rule

On Monday, a second round of peace talks between the Malian government and separatist militias will begin in Algiers. The talks are aimed at ending a conflict that has continued over this past year despite the country’s efforts to return to a democracy. The two groups signed an interim agreement in June last year, which effectively paved the way for nationwide elections, however since President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was elected to power, negotiations have stalled and northern Mali has seen a spike in violence by Islamist and separatist militants.

According to sources, the talks will be based on a “roadmap” that was agreed to by the different sides in July. The talks will be overseen by a “college of mediators,” which includes Algeria, the African Union (AU) and the 15-member regional bloc ECOWAS. A “college of facilitators” will be made up of delegates from France, Niger, Nigeria and the European Union. While former Prime Minister Modibo Keita, who is the president’s envoy at the talks, has disclosed “this time in Algiers, participants will get to the bottom of their problems and, it is to be hoped, come to an agreement,” Mali’s Prime Minister Moussa Mara has suggested that despite the government willing to make concessions, a “red line” has been set, noting that Mali’s territorial integrity and secular status will not be up for discussion. While there currently is no set deadline, negotiations between the Malian government and separatist militias are expected to last weeks with the claim for special legal status expected to be the main sticking point.

In the weeks prior to these talks, rival factions amongst the rebels, including members of the MNLA, HCUA, the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA), the coalition of the People of Azawad, which is a sub-division of the MNLA, along with a vigilante movement in the region, met in Burkina Faso’s capital city, Ouagadougou, in order to sign a broad policy agreement that effectively ensures they will speak with one voice in Algiers. According to sources, the signatories of the document are requesting “special legal status” for their homeland in northern Mali, adding that they want official recognition of the “legitimacy of the struggle of Azawad/northern Mali for 50 years to enjoy a special status in line with the geographical, economic, social, cultural and security realities.” Although these armed groups once fought each other in northern Mali, it now appears that they are increasingly willing to unite together in order to achieve their goals and to negotiate with the Malian government.

In May of this year, clashes erupted between the Malian army and a coalition of rebels from the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), resulting in at least fifty soldiers being killed in the region of Kidal. Although a ceasefire, which was achieved by Mauritanian leader and AU chief Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, has since been in place, the Malian government has expressed alarm over the “concentrations of armed groups” that are present in the desert region.

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , ,