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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Mali


UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Mali

1 December 1998

Basic Facts

What we do

During early 1999, UNHCR will consolidate its programme for reintegrating Malian refugees, including Tuaregs and Arabs, especially in the north-east of the country. The agency will also ensure the sustainability of projects launched in the Gao and Kidal regions that support returnee communities.

Who we help

Some 135,000 returnees, including 60,000 persons who settled in the Gao and Kidal regions. Several thousand others, along with their livestock, may also return from the Niger, where they had registered for facilitated voluntary repatriation before June 1998 and received material assistance for their repatriation.

Our requirements

US$ 1,741,605

Our offices

Bamako, Gao, Kidal.

Our partners

The Government of Mali, Action contre la Faim, Agence des Musulmans d'Afrique, Aide Médicale Internationale, Centre Canadien d'Étude et de Coopération Internationale, Croix-Rouge Malienne, Vision Mondiale.


Until the late 1980s, successive droughts in the north of the country aggravated competition for water and pasture lands among the populations. These tensions provoked an armed conflict which resulted in some 1,000 deaths and led to the flight of some 150,000 refugees between 1990 and 1994. When peace was restored, UNHCR helped repatriate and reintegrate more than 135,000 people. UNHCR had originally planned to phase out its north Mali operation at the end of 1998. But because of the disparity of conditions between the north-west region (region of Timbuctoo) and the north-east region (regions of Gao and Kidal), the agency agreed to extend its activities into the first six months of 1999 in those regions less favoured for repatriation but in which the most recent returns have occurred (the last convoy from Algeria arrived in July 1998).

The armed rebellion began in the north-east in the early 1990s. Access to the region is difficult; and life there is precarious, even for people who originate from the area. While the north-west region enjoys relative prosperity, thanks to the successful reintegration of returnees and implementation of development programmes, the regions of Kidal and, to a lesser extent, Gao remain isolated and vulnerable. The presence of bandits, who are often unemployed ex-combatants, discourages development initiatives and external support.


UNHCR contributes to durable reintegration with modest-scale projects of direct and immediate benefit to vulnerable groups of returnees and to host communities in the north-east regions of Gao and Kidal. Projects focus on self-sufficiency and on water, health and education facilities. In addition, UNHCR works with development agencies to ensure continuity of assistance and rapid investment in these socially and economically fragile regions.


Returnees are considered and treated as citizens by the authorities; however, in some remote areas, there is little presence of Malian officials. Minor conflicts, usually over water or land, must be resolved by inter-communal discussions in which UNHCR plays an active role.

Reinforcing social gains attained in exile

Exile in Mauritania, Algeria, Burkina Faso and in the Niger has had a positive impact on the 135,000 returnees. The Bellas, former slaves of the Tuaregs, have been emancipated, children received an education, and women have become more involved in the community. These gains should be preserved in the new settlements in Mali. Even if special attention is given to projects for women, UNHCR's approach is community-based: activities should benefit the largest number of persons possible in the shortest amount of time.


UNHCR supports water projects and promotes micro-projects that benefit the entire community, such as managing market gardens, small shops and crafts cooperatives, and providing educational and medical supplies.


Banditry in the north-east threatens security; but inaction would present a greater threat to peace. If returnee communities in Gao and Kidal are not given assistance to support their self-sufficiency and promote reconciliation, the tensions that resulted in armed conflict in the early 1990s could recur.


In June 1998, the President of Mali came to UNHCR's office in Bamako to express his appreciation for the role UNHCR played in re-establishing peace in the north of the country - not only through its reintegration projects, but also because of its knowledge of the local populations and the dialogues among those populations that UNHCR helped foster. During the Deputy High Commissioner's visit to Bamako later in June, the President warned against a premature withdrawal of UNHCR or a reduction of its activities in north Mali.

Budget US$

The budget includes costs in Mali and at Headquarters.

ActivitiesSpecial Programmes
Water supply300,000
Crop Production20,000
Agency Operational Support220,000
Programme Delivery Costs*450,005
Administrative Support costs91,600

* Includes costs for protection, monitoring and coordination.