The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/69/926–S/2015/409) issued on 5 June 2015.

Owing to repeated violations of the ceasefire agreement signed by the Government of Mali and the two coalitions of armed groups — the Coordination and the Platform — the security situation deteriorated considerably in northern Mali, especially after the resumption of hostilities in Kidal in May. In that context, the monitoring and verification of violations against children remained difficult and, therefore, violations are estimated to be underreported.

The United Nations verified the recruitment and use of 84 children within the ranks of Mouvement national de libération de l’Azawad (MNLA), Haut Conseil pour l’unité de l’Azawad (HCUA), Mouvement arabe de l’Azawad (MAA)-Sidati, MAA-Ould Sidi Mohamed and Groupe d’autodéfense Touaregs Imghad et alliés (GATIA) in the regions of Kidal, Timbuktu, Gao and Mopti. In addition, allegations were received indicating that hundreds of children are currently associated with armed groups and engaged in hostilities, but the information could not be verified.

In accordance with the protocol on the release and reintegration of children associated with the armed forces and armed groups of 1 July 2013, four children detained under security charges were released. However, nine children remained in detention in Bamako for alleged association with armed groups, some for as lo ng as two years. In June, the Ministry of Justice appointed a focal point to work with the United Nations on this issue.

The killing of nine children and the injuring of 23 were verified. Explosive remnants of war claimed all but one life and injured 21 children in the Mopti, Gao and Kidal regions. The widespread use of explosive remnants of war is of great concern since armed groups have left behind many remnants that have contaminated areas, mostly around Gao.

Thirty-eight incidents of rape and other forms of sexual violence against girls were perpetrated by MNLA (6), Malian Defence and Security Forces (4) and unidentified armed elements (28) in Gao and Timbuktu regions. Reporting on sexual violence remained challenging, owing to fear of reprisals, lack of medical and judicial capacity and services in certain areas and preference for settlements outside judicial proceedings.

The United Nations verified one attack against a school in the Gao region in May. There were 20 cases of military use of schools, mainly attributed to MNLA and to joint troops of MNLA, HCUA, MAA-Coordination, and Coalition du peuple de l’Azawad. Nearly 60 per cent of the schools militarily used are located in Gao, while the others are in Kidal, Timbuktu, and Mopti. In the region of Kidal, almost all schools remained closed. Peacekeepers of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali used three schools in Gao city, Ansongo Cercle and Tabankort. In December, the Gao vocational school was vac ated and the United Nations is currently refurbishing it. The use of one health centre by MNLA since March was documented in Ménaka, in the Gao region.

Reports of abduction of girls aged 12 to 16 years by unidentified individuals were also received, mostly in the context of clashes between the Peulh and Dogon communities.

Twenty-four incidents of denial of humanitarian access severely affecting the delivery of humanitarian assistance were verified but the perpetrators could not be identified.

Despite some initial progress made to address impunity for violations against children, slow restoration of state authority, including the reestablishment of a functioning judiciary in northern Mali, remained of great concern. Moreover, at least two suspected perpetrators of sexual violence were released from detention without being charged, as part of confidence-building measures within the framework of the peace negotiations.

The United Nations engaged with armed groups, such as MAA-Ould Sidi Mohamed and GATIA in Tabankort, MNLA and HCUA in Kidal, the leadership of the Coordination des mouvements et forces patriotiques de résistance II (CMFPR-II) in Timbuktu, and the joint troops of MNLA and MAA-Sidati in Ber. The latter engagement resulted in the signing of local command orders that prohibit all six grave violations against children. In September, the United Nations also conducted a screening of the MAA-Sidati and MNLA joint troops stationed in Ber, and identified five children aged between 15 and 17 years and two young adults who had been recruited as children. In line with advocacy efforts by my Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, I call upon all parties involved in the inter-Malian peace process to take into consideration specific provisions to end and prevent violations against children in the peace agreement and its implementation.

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.