International Alert has launched a new policy brief on violent extremism in Mali with a roundtable event in Bamako attended by diplomats, journalists and NGO workers.
The brief, called ‘They treat us all like jihadis’, is based on findings of an 18-month project on Economic recovery and local governance in Mali that we led in the country’s central regions: Timbuktu, Mopti and Ségou. It aims to improve understanding of the different forms that violence takes in these areas, arguing that “violent extremism does not emerge in a vacuum but rather thrives on existing conflict, ingrained tensions and grievances, and normalised violence.” We explain why focusing on understanding local perspectives of conflicts, including violent extremism, is therefore vital to responding effectively to them and building long-term peace in Mali.
Diplomats from the Canadian, American, Danish and Swedish embassies were among those who took part in the roundtable in Bamako. Findings have also just been presented to 250 government officials at a conference in Copenhagen, hosted by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
We will build on this research when we start a new project in January that will focus on the same three regions of central Mali. This will rebuild trust between communities and improve their relationship with security forces. In doing so we will support both groups in tackling violence, including extremism.
The new project is being funded by the Canadian Government. It will run in partnership with Timbuktu-based NGO L’Association Malienne pour la Survie au Sahel (AMSS) and the Strategic Capacity Group in Canada.
Listen to our Mali Country Manager Louisa Waugh discuss key findings of our policy brief (in French) with Project Manager Baba Dakano on Bamako-based national radio station Studio Tamani here.