The conflict in Mali is getting worse with waves of attacks by armed groups spreading south and pulling more children in to the chaos of the crisis.
Oumo is a Fulani girl has been displaced by the crisis. She stands inside a temporary school in a UNICEF tent next to the collection of tents where they live outside of Mopti. An increase in violent attacks in central Mali have displaced thousands of children. They are now struggling to return to normalcy in the camp, but they are afraid to return home as the conflict escalates and children suffer.
The remains of a house outside of Gao. Earlier this year, an explosion, or a VBED a vehicle-borne explosive device, ripped through the compound killing the whole family and injuring dozens of others. Nothing but rubble remains of the house and children's backpacks and toys still can still be found in the debris.
Awa stands outside the door of the tent of a temporary school in a camp outside of Mopti. Her mother was killed in an attack on her village and she was shot in the leg. She’s recovering in the safety of the camp but says she’s still in pain and struggles walking with the crutch her brother made for her.
A fulani camp of displaced people outside of Mopti. The nomadic people are struggling with the challenges of displacement and they are far from their traditional grazing lands but they have sought safety after the rise in deadly raids on villages in the region.
Sala was injured in the crisis. He was arrested and thrown in the truck on to broken glass. After three days of driving the desert, he was so badly injured his arm had to be amputated. He's now trying to get back to his home. Sala also lost two fingers on his remaining hand so he’s in recovery and UNICEF teams are trying to locate his family so he can be reunited.
‘I just want to find my father,” says Ibrahim. Like many children in the Mali crisis, Ibrahim had to flee from a raid on his village near Mopti. He and his family are living in a makeshift camp but their father has been missing since the attack. This is a drawing of himself at his home.
Women who have been displaced from their homes after violent attacks try to get back to normal life at the camp where they’ve found shelter outside of Mopti. Traditional techniques of pounding the grains continue, even in the challenging conditions. But finding enough food for everyone is difficult, as the families have often left behind their livestock and everything they own when they fled.
Fatou is 13 and she has a two-month-old baby. Like many girls affected by the crisis in Mali, she's out of school, which exposed her to sexual violence and exploitation. She was homeless for part of the pregnancy after being kicked out by her family. After the birth, UNICEF helped her reconcile with her aunt so she's back home. Fatou dreams of going back to school so she can open her own business.
Gao has seen an influx of displaced people, creating challenges to access limited services. The town has been occupied by armed groups but is slowly return to normal, despite ongoing insecurity. Drought and violence drove a surge in people seeking shelter in Gao and many have remained, living in informal settlements on the edge of town.
Moussa was asked to join the local militia by his chief. A week later he was on night watch holding nothing more than a shovel. He was scooped up in a raid and arrested with a large group of adults. He's now in a UNICEF supported shelter and trying to get back to his family. When asked about his one wish, he said he wants a motorbike. His second wish is for the end of the conflict.
A man drives his camel caravan out into the desert, past the last security checkpoint in Gao. Beyond the perimeter of security forces, bandits and armed groups continue violent attacks, driving fear and ongoing instability. But life continues for traders and herdsmen who have travelled these routes for centuries. For children beyond the security of Gao, school is rare and violence is common.
“I want to go home,” says Ahmed. He was just at the local water well when he got caught up in a raid by the security forces. He was thrown into prison and interrogated for more than a week. Then he was moved to another prison and now he's ended up thousands of kilometers away in a shelter for children in Bamako. He just wants to go home back where he lives Kidal but because of security issues, it seems almost impossible. This is a detail of what he drew when asked to draw himself at hom
This is Alhousseni. His brother was killed a month ago in a raid by bandits. They stole everything that he owns. He was bound and held at gunpoint with his nephew when they shot his brother in the head. They pushed the gun into his head and then spared his life. He’s now looking after his brother’s family but the fear of renewed attacks has created an endless cycle of trauma and fear.
A fulani girls leads a traditional song in a UNICEF tent setup to help the children recover from the trauma of displacement through games and play.
“I just want to go home,” says 12 year old Abdou. He's one of thousands of children who have been displaced by the violence in engulfing of northern and central Mali. His village was attacked and now he lives with his family in a camp outside of town.
Douma just wants to go home. He's from Niger and he was with his brother looking after their animals when they were caught up in an air strike by security forces and badly injured. He's lost his leg and is now recovering as shelter for unaccompanied minors. But all he wants is to find his family and go back to his life and his flock.
Women do the washing at a well installed by UNICEF at a camp for displaced people outside of Mopti. Violent attacks have forced families to flee to safety, but the surge of population in the towns has created shortages of essentials like water and food. Families are coping with support but everyone is hoping to return home as soon as the crisis abates. As it enters its sixth year, it shows signs of intensifying in central Mali, leaving more children in its wake.
A boy who was badly burned in an attack on his village.
Women at a market in Bamako. Violence has forced many to seek safety in the capital, staying with extended family. By the spike in population to Bamako has created increased demand for limited services like health and education. In a country that was already coping with challenges of poverty, the crisis has made matters worse.
Mina was abducted in a raid and held at gunpoint by an armed group. Her mother was so shaken by the event that she never recovered and ended up passing away. She’s coping without her mother but like so many children she's devastated by all the impacts of this crisis. She lives in Timbuktu and her biggest wish is peace.