The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/68/878–S/2014/339) issued on 15 May 2014.

In 2013, the United Nations monitoring and reporting mechanism on grave violations against children was established in Mali following the listing of Ansar Dine, the Mouvement national pour la liberation de l’Azawad (MNLA), and the Mouvement pour l’unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest (MUJAO) in the annexes of my previous annual report. Favourable political and security developments occurred in Mali during the second half of 2013, including the signing of the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement and the successful holding of presidential and legislative elections, which contributed to a significant decrease in the cases of grave violations recorded. However, armed incursions by MUJAO into the northern regions of Kidal and Gao continued, putting children formerly associated with armed groups at risk of re-recruitment. Humanitarian and monitoring access to northern Mali remained severely limited due to security and capacity constraints.

All armed groups in the North, including Al-Qaida au Maghreb Islamique, Ansar Dine, MNLA and MUJAO perpetrated grave violations against children. The United Nations verified the recruitment and use of 57 children, all boys as young as 11 years of age. Most of the boys were recruited in the first half of 2013 by MUJAO and the MNLA and were used in combat, to man checkpoints and in support roles. Reportedly, families, imams and community leaders have facilitated the recruitment of children into armed groups. Children entrusted by their parents to marabouts were particularly vulnerable, and religious schools often served as places for indoctrination and recruitment.

The detention of children formerly associated with parties to conflict remained a concern. By December, the United Nations had verified the detention of
24 children under security charges after separation from armed groups by the Forces armées et de sécuritées du Mali during military operations. Despite the signing of a protocol on the release and handover of children between the Government of Mali and the United Nations on 1 July, nine boys remained detained in Bamako under security charges at the time of reporting. The United Nations continued to follow up on this issue, in particular on children detained before the signing of the protocol.

Children constitute more than half of the documented casualties of explosive remnants of war in Mali with at least six killed and 51 others injured in 2013. In addition, children were killed and maimed in attacks by armed groups, including through the use of terror tactics. For example, on 23 October, a six-year-old boy was killed in a suicide attack on a checkpoint of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

As of December, 147,425 students returned to 769 reopened schools in Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu; the regions that were most affected by the conflict. During the height of the conflict in 2013, all 1,418 schools in northern Mali were closed for an extended period. Access to education was also restricted owing to the use of schools by the military. For instance, on 14 November, 30 MNLA elements established a front post in a high school in Kidal town.

On 7 February 2013, an interministerial circular was signed by relevant ministers, outlining their commitment to end and prevent the recruitment of children and to ensure appropriate reintegration provisions. In addition, an initial 600 MSDF elements were trained on child protection by the United Nations. On 7 August 2013, the Government of Mali accepted the joint verification mechanism proposed by MINUSMA to conduct physical and administrative screening of elements of the Forces armées et de sécuritées du Mali .

I encourage the Malian authorities to swiftly operationalize this joint mechanism and to ensure that specific procedures for the separation and reintegration of children associated with armed groups and forces are included in the development of the national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process.

Parties in Mali

  1. 1.       Mouvement national de liberation de l’Azawad (MNLA)a,c
    2.       Mouvement pour l’unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest (MUJAO)a,c
    3.       Ansar Dinea,c

(a) Parties that recruit and use children.
(c) Parties that commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children.