Roundup on Conflict Issues in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger (12/2/2020)

There’s a lot of news and reports coming out that probably each deserve their own post, but given end-of-the-semester stress, it’s wiser for me to just do a roundup today. A few things that have caught my eye recently:

  • Dan Eizenga and Wendy Williams, “The Puzzle of JNIM and Militant Islamist Groups in the Sahel,” Africa Center for Strategic Studies, December 1. An excerpt: “JNIM’s structure functions as a business association on behalf of its membership, giving the impression that it is omnipresent and inexorably expanding its reach. The characterization of JNIM as a single operational entity, however, feeds the inaccurate perception of a unified command and control structure.”
  • Danielle Paquette and Henry Wilkins, “An American moved to Burkina Faso for ‘a better life.’ He was shot dead outside a military base,” Washington Post, December 1. This is a very sad story, and some of the saddest parts actually relate more to the United States than to Burkina Faso.
  • AFP reports (December 1, French) on a tenuous peace initiative in Ménaka, Mali.
  • France24 has a roughly 16-minute video report (November 27, French) by the journalist Cyril Payen, who embedded with Nigerien special forces.
  • This is a good interview (November 24) with Guillaume Soto-Mayor about Sahelian security issues.

Elevated Malaria Case Rates in Northern Mali – A Metric to Watch for the Sahel and Beyond

Sahelien, Le Monde, and others are reporting that case rates for Malaria in Kidal, northern Mali, are approximately double this year what they were at this time last year. Here is Sahelien’s video report (French):

The high case rate has much to do with this year’s high rates of rainfall, which as Le Monde points out have affected even what is normally thought of as the northern Malian desert. Experts are also identifying COVID-19, and its impacts on health systems and health supplies, as another cause. From a relatively early point in the pandemic, there have been fears that COVID-19 would lead to excess deaths from malaria (and HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis).

Public health officials launched a five-day, region-wide malaria prevention campaign for Kidal in the second half of September.

The Ménaka and Gao regions are also affected. One Malian news outlet says there were 4,500 cases in the north during the past few weeks. That report adds another crucial point about the indirect impact of COVID-19 – the pandemic triggers headlines and mobilizes resources, while malaria gets much less attention than it merits.