Country Background

Mali has been in turmoil since a 2012 separatist uprising prompted the overthrow of the country’s president. Following the collapse of the country’s central government, Mali’s humanitarian crisis has been exacerbated by the dramatic rise of armed militant groups which later provoked a foreign military intervention into Mali in early 2013. Despite the Peace and Reconciliation agreement (2017) and other international mediation efforts, terrorism and instability continue to run rampant across the region.  Over 13,000 peacekeepers are working in Mali on what has been called the UN’s most dangerous mission due to the high number of attacks on peacekeepers. The complex security situation in Mali is dramatized by pervasive food shortages throughout Africa’s Sahel region and in the last five years.

What Nonprofits Need to Know

Below on the left is an overview of the humanitarian and peacebuilding needs in Syria. On the right are the primary sanctioned groups presently operating there. Because U.S. law prohibits the provision of “material support” to listed terrorists individuals and groups as well as engaging in trade with sanctioned persons and entities, the presence of these groups and sanctions programs can impact the delivery of aid and peacebuilding programs. The list below is non-exhaustive and changes frequently, so it is important for nonprofits to check all partners and those with whom they engage in transactions against, at a minimum, the U.S. Specially Designated National (SDN) and the United Nations Security Council Consolidated lists. Below this chart is information on OFAC licenses, where applicable, and links to our research and advocacy, and other relevant information.  

Humanitarian &
Peacebuilding Needs

According to the NGO Refugees International, 3.9 million people are in need of assistance and protection in Mali. 

Food Security and Nutrition: In 2019, 650,000 people face food insecurity and that number is projected to nearly double to 1.2 million by June 2020. 10,094 severe acute malnutrition children under five were treated representing about 12 % of the 166,529 cases expected in 2020.

Disease and Healthcare: Malaria is the leading cause of child mortality in Mali. In February 2020, 18 cases of suspected cases of Hemorrhagic fever Crimee-Congo were reported in the Mopti region. 

Natural Hazards: Mali is affected by floods during the rainy season each year, most significantly in the inner delta of the Niger River. 

Ongoing Hostilities: According to the Crisis Group, jihadist violence against security forces is increasing and militants have moved to more rural areas to exploit local conflicts. 

Displacement: As of March 2020, over 200,000 are internally displaced and over half a million returnees are in need of assistance.

al-Mulathamun Battalion (AMB): AMB was originally part of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) but became a separate organization in late 2012.  The group mainly operates in the north of the country and targets international entities. It was designated by the U.S. as an FTO.  More information here.

al-Qa’ida-affiliated Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM): Since its formation in March 2017 JNIM, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Mali and West Africa, has been responsible for numerous attacks against both Westerners and regional security forces. The group is primarily based in northern and central Mali and is designated by the U.S. as an FTO.  More information here.

Islamic State of Iraq and ash-sham networks in the Greater Sahara (ISGS): Since 2015, the group’s operations are mostly concentrated along the Mali-Niger border region. It is designated by the U.S. as an FTO.  More information here.

Primary Terrorist Presence &
Other Sanctioned Groups

Access overview of the United Nation’s Security Council Committee on Mali Sanctions pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017) here.

“The first victims of this cycle of violence are civilians. They are killed, they are maimed, they are threatened; and their only chance of survival is to flee.”

Hassane Hamadou, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Mali, 10 July 2019

Licenses offered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) within the U.S. Department of Treasury enforces sanctions programs. It has a licensing process that allows transactions with sanctioned entities, including listed terrorist groups, that would otherwise be unlawful. Nonprofits that operate in areas affected by sanctions often apply for licenses from OFAC so that they are able to provide services to civilians in conflict zones around the world without running afoul of U.S. sanctions law, engage in peacebuilding activities and more. Find more information here.

Policy Reform

The Charity & Security Network advocates for change in national security measures to better support nonprofits working around the world. In fragile contexts, counterterrorism measures often impede humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding organizations from accessing finance for their programs and serving populations in need. Find out more on our key issues below:

  • Find more information on Material Support here.
  • Find more information on Financial Access here.

Useful Links

last updated: May 13, 2020