UN blames Malian army for five hundred civilian deaths: In a report, the United Nations has accused the Malian army and “foreign” fighters of executing at least 500 people in March 2022.
UN blames Malian army for five hundred civilian deaths
The United Nations on Friday accused the Malian army and “foreign” fighters of executing at least 500 people in March 2022 during an anti-jihadist operation in Moura, in a damning report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). As documented in the report, the events in the central city of Moura, which have been the subject of conflicting versions for the past year, are the worst of their kind in a country familiar with atrocities by jihadists and other armed groups since 2012. The report is the most damning document produced against Malian forces, which have been implicated on multiple occasions in the past.
OHCHR “has reasonable grounds to believe” that at least 500 people, including some 20 women and seven children, were “executed by Malian armed forces and foreign military personnel” between March 27 and 31, 2022, in this town of a few thousand people, the report says. It is based on an investigation by the human rights division of the peacekeeping mission deployed in Mali since 2013 (Minusma), 157 individual interviews and 11 group interviews.
Wagner pointed out
UN blames Malian army for five hundred civilian deaths: In March 2022, 500 civilians were executed in Moura, a village in central Mali. The massacre was the deadliest since the war in Mali began a decade ago. In a report released on Friday, the UN agency accused the Malian army and “foreign” fighters of being behind the killing.
The massacre is said to have taken place after an anti-jihadist operation “after the area [had] been fully contained” between March 27 and 31, 2022. Malian soldiers, flanked by “foreign fighters,” most likely Wagner fighters, allegedly detained, sorted, tortured, and shot hundreds of civilians, including about 20 women and seven children. Within five days, 500 people had lost their lives. According to the report, there are “reasonable grounds to believe that 58 women and girls were victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence.
Neither Bamako nor Moscow has reacted
While the report does not explicitly identify “foreigners,” it mentions Malian statements about Russian “instructors” present in the country to fight jihadists. The head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, had himself attested to the presence in Mali of the Russian private security company Wagner, as recently as last February. Among the testimonies collected by the UN investigators, some describe white men in fatigues speaking an “unknown” language.
The investigations took place in an extremely tense atmosphere. Witnesses were intimidated: “Some sources were even arrested and detained by Malian security services during interviews with human rights officers. Neither Bamako nor Moscow, to whom the report was submitted prior to publication, have commented.
Washington ‘appalled’ by Malian army abuses
“The United States is appalled by the disregard for human life shown by elements of the Malian armed forces in cooperation with the Kremlin-backed Wagner group during an operation in Moura in March of last year,” said a statement from State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.
“We call on the transitional government to conduct an independent, impartial, effective, thorough, and transparent investigation to hold those responsible accountable, consistent with the recommendations of the U.N. report,” the spokesman continued in the statement.
Furthermore, “it is crucial that UNMISMA be able to continue its mandate without hindrance,” he added, denouncing “the transitional government’s restrictions on the freedom of movement” of this UN force.
The United States on Monday urged Mali’s transition government to pursue an “independent, impartial, efficient, exhaustive, and transparent investigation” to hold accountable those responsible for the likely execution of hundreds of people in one village.
“The United States is appalled by the disregard for human life exhibited by elements of the Malian Armed Forces in cooperation with the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group – a transnational criminal organization – during the operation in Moura,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.