Local women and children arrive at an abandoned clinic to receive medical care from the French military during Operation Barkhane in Ndaki, Mali. File picture: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Johannesburg – The UN has welcomed, and urged support for, reconciliation initiatives currently underway in Mali to bring together local leaders and end ongoing violence.

Alioune Tine, the UN’s independent expert on the human rights in Mali, said these efforts should be supported in whatever way possible, UN News reported.

Tine’s comments follow a warning from the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, that central areas of Mali, especially around Mopti, are seeing an increased level of violence, including the killing and maiming of children.

More than 150 children have been killed in Mali so far this year, with 75 injured due to violent attacks, and the number of child soldiers in armed groups has doubled compared to the same period in 2018, according to the UN.

The UN expert also referred to attacks on the central Mali village of Sobane-Da in June that left 35 people dead and which he said had caused unnecessary death, destruction and displacement of civilians.

The reconciliation process, which has involved traditional and religious leaders, civil society members and the local authorities, was described as “an encouraging development”, which should contribute to “ending impunity and promoting justice and reconciliation”.

Bamako is in the process of attempting to restore stability and rebuild the country following 2012’s military coup, renewed fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the seizure of its northern territory by radical extremists.

African News Agency (ANA)