What conflict has done to Mali's social fabric – and how it can be repaired

Aissatou Sall

Blog post by Aissatou Sall

Oxfam Great Britain, Regional Information and Communication officer
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Oxfam and WILDAF today launch a report based on a survey in June 2013 of almost 2000 people originating from the north of Mali, in order to understand the impact of the conflict in northern Mali on social relations and the prospects for reconciliation.

This report provides a snapshot of the social, economic and cultural relations between communities from northern Mali and highlights the challenges to overcome in order to rebuild a peaceful and diverse country in the aftermath of conflict.

At a moment where Mali enters a phase of recovery with the election of a new President, this report provides food for thought on the process of national reconciliation. Key findings in the report include:

  • The 2012/13 conflict in Mali was widely seen as “unparalleled”, with the impact greater than in previous crises largely due to the severe consequences on social relations that led to threats, violence, displacement, the breakdown of economic relations and a loss of trust.
  • Despite this damage and the degradation of the country’s social fabric, there remains a strong willingness and potential to reconcile and return to peace if key challenges can be overcome. This includes building on the linkages that have united communities for centuries as well as being sensitive to divisions.
  • Communities highlighted the need to prioritize reconciliation efforts from the community level, ensure the judicial system is able to deal with abuses, provide sustainable solutions for those who remain displaced, and ensure that all communities benefit equally from both humanitarian aid and long-term development.
  • Yet the challenges will be significant, and include the fear of many displaced persons to return home, a lack of faith in many State institutions, and a need to find ways to integrate the voices of minorities with dissenting opinions and more radical views.

The report provides a platform for Malians affected by conflict to speak out about their experience of conflict, and their hopes and fears for the future. Their voices will be essential as Mali searches for a path to sustainable peace.

“We need to sit down together, talk, shake hands and look in the same direction. We don’t need to hate anymore.” Woman from Timbuktu region

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Read the report: Piecing Together the Jigsaw: Prospects for improved social relations after the armed conflict in northern Mali

Oxfam's humanitarian response to the Crisis in Mali