NEW YORK, United States of America, March 28, 2019/ — The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, expressed his deepest concern and strongly condemns the attack on Ogossagou Peulh village, Mopti region, in central Mali, on 23 rd March 2019 in which, at least 134 civilians, including women and children, were killed and at least 55 people were injured. This is the fourth major attack since the start of the year against villages populated by Fulani/Peulhs in Bankass cercle including the one that took place on 1 st January in Kolougon Peulh in which 37 civilians were killed.

The Office of the Special Adviser has been closely monitoring the situation in Mali since the beginning of 2018 and has received reports indicating a serious upsurge in inter-communal violence as well as negative impact of counterterrorism operations conducted by community-based armed groups on the civilian populations in the region. There is growing ethnicization of the conflict in central Mali, in which entire communities are being stigmatized as terrorists or as affiliates of armed groups. This dynamic is not sufficiently recognized neither by national authorities nor by the international community, who are focusing mostly on the peace process in the north and on the threat posed by jihadist movements. The community based armed groups and other armed actors have been carrying out targeted attacks against civilians in the context of the fight against terrorism, committing serious violations and abuses of human rights including killings, destruction of property, arbitrary detention and de facto embargos on villages, restricting movement of civilian populations.

“Over the recent months, violence has reached unprecedented level amid retaliatory attacks and serious violations of human rights in central Mali impacting on all communities. Unless these concerns are immediately addressed, there is a high risk of further escalation of the situation in which atrocity crimes could be committed.” Mr. Dieng said.

To prevent further escalation of violence, the Special Adviser urges the Malian government, with the support of the the international community, including MINUSMA to immediately address the current grave upsurge of violence in central Mali and to provide, with no further delay, protection as well as assistance to vulnerable population. “I call on the Malian government to urgently investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the recent attacks as well as those responsible for serious violations and abuses of human rights.” Mr. Dieng reiterated. The Special Adviser also called on the authorities and all Malians to prevent and refrain from stigmatizing entire communities. The Office of the Special Adviser stands ready to provide support to local reconciliation and inter-communal dialogue processes, with the aim of promoting inclusivity, strengthening resilience and social cohesion.