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The activities of NGOs supported by France were banned by the Malian junta on Monday in reaction to the French government’s suspension of its official development aid to Bamako.
Another warning shot. The Malian junta announced, Monday evening, November 21, to prohibit the activities of all non-governmental organizations financed or supported by France, including those operating in the humanitarian field.
The interim Prime Minister, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, justifies this decision, in a press release posted on social networks, by the recent announcement of the suspension by France of its official development aid to Mali.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs had invoked the use of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner by the Malian authorities as the reason. The junta that came to power by force in August 2020 has constantly denied having appealed to this company, which has been decried in several countries, and speaks of Russian army instructors deployed in the name of a former collaboration between the two countries.
Colonel Maïga denounces in his press release “fanciful allegations” and a “subterfuge intended to deceive and manipulate national and international public opinion for the purpose of destabilizing and isolating Mali”.
“Consequently, the transitional government decides to prohibit, with immediate effect, all activities carried out by NGOs operating in Mali with funding or with material or technical support from France, including in the humanitarian field,” he said.
A multitude of NGOs work in Mali in the areas of health, food or education. The country, poor and landlocked, has been facing the spread of jihadism and violence of all kinds since 2012, but also a serious political and humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced by the conflict.
Since May 2021 and a second coup d’etat consolidating their grip, the colonels have turned away from France, pushed towards the exit and whose last soldier left the country in August after nine years of engagement against the jihadists alongside the Malian army. The colonels turned militarily and diplomatically to Moscow.
A group of NGOs including CCFD Terre-Solidaire, Handicap International, Médecins du Monde and Oxfam, had expressed their concern at France’s suspension of its aid.
Recipients of a large part of this funding, these NGOs were alarmed in a letter to President Emmanuel Macron that the abolition of such funding does not lead to “the cessation of essential, even vital activities (…) in the benefit of populations in situations of great fragility or poverty”.
They recalled that 7.5 million Malians needed assistance, “that is more than 35% of the population”, and that Mali appeared in 184th position in the ranking of the human development index.