The United Nations has called for thorough investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the farmers-herders crisis in Mali that has left one hundred and fifty-three people dead, most of the casualty being women and children.
Ibiyemi Aboyade reports that the attack has been seen as an eye opener for the Malian government with children making up one third of the casualties in the attack on Fulani herders in central Mali on Saturday, the deadliest of such attack in recent times.
While reacting, UNICEF spokesperson, Christophe Boulierac said: “Unicef is deeply saddened and outraged that children are among the victims. According to first reports from local medical services, one third of the casualties are children, with further verification still ongoing. 31 children are also injured.”
This has led the Prime Minister to call for an emergency cabinet meeting and President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita also ordering for the dissolution of an anti-jihadist vigilante group called as some of the group’s ethnic Dogon fighters are suspected of being behind the attack.
The jihadists have consistently tried to exploit a sense of persecution among the Fulani, whose semi-nomadic, pastoral way of life sometimes brings them into conflict with more settled farmers like the Dogon, by arming and training them.
“These traditional disputes have always been there, but lately it has taken on a particularly deadly turn because entire Fulani communities – and we are talking about millions of people – are being painted as violent extremists simply because they are Muslim,” UN’s High commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson said.
Malians have grown increasingly frustrated by the failure of government forces to protect them from both jihadist onslaughts and ethnic reprisals.
OHCHR Spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani said: “We are urging the government to conduct prompt investigations with a view to justice and accountability, to break this circle of impunity. We have deployed a team as well as I mentioned, with crime scene investigators as well as human rights officers, and they will be conducting interviews in the affected villages to try to establish what happened.”
But the massacre of civilians at the villages of Ogossagou and Welingara on Saturday, has shocked a population long inured to gratuitous killing.