U.N. expert calls for support for Mali's reconciliation efforts

The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali has welcomed initiatives aimed at bringing together local leaders to end the ongoing conflict in the country.

Alioune Tine said on Monday that the move should be supported “in whatever way possible” in order to pacify the West African country.

The latest development comes on the back of warnings from UN children’s agency, UNICEF, that central areas of Mali, especially around Mopti, are seeing an increased level of violence, including the killing and maiming of children.

More than 150 children have been killed in Mali so far this year, according to the UN, which also says that scores of others have been injured in violent attacks.

In his statement, Tine said that the figures underlined the “disproportionate impact that intercommunal violence has had on children, with a dramatic increase in the number killed so far in 2019.”

The reconciliation process, which has involved traditional and religious leaders, civil society members and the local authorities, has been hailed as “an encouraging development”, which should contribute to “ending impunity and promoting justice and reconciliation”.

Tine noted Prime Minister Boubou Cisse's recent visits to the affected region which, he said, have provided a boost to the initiatives.

The Malian government has been seeking to restore stability and rebuild following a series of setbacks since early 2012 that fractured the country, including a military coup, renewed fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the seizure of its northern territory by radical extremists.

The UN Independent Expert noted that fighting was not the way forward for the country.

“Progress can be made only by protecting human rights alongside development, together with efforts to obtain peace and security,” Tine said.

Mali has been plagued by conflict since 2012, a war that has killed thousands and fractured the country.

Mali has been plagued by conflict since 2012, a war that has killed thousands and fractured the country.