New sanctions risk plunging the Malian people further into the humanitarian crisis, warn 13 NGOs

  • New sanctions against Mali could have a devastating impact on the country, where one in three people already depends on humanitarian aid.
  • 13 NGOs are urging all states and agencies supporting these sanctions to make an unequivocal commitment to applying humanitarian exemptions, so that lifesaving aid can reach all those in need.

A group of 13 NGOs is calling on the international community to protect the Malian people, following the announcement of new sanctions against the country in response to the decision of the interim authorities to suspend democratic elections promised for next month.

Last week, the European Union announced its intention to support the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the implementation of collective sanctions against Mali. Restrictions imposed by ECOWAS include closing borders and imposing a trade embargo, as well as cutting financial aid and freezing the country’s assets at the Central Bank of East African States. Where is. Mali’s transitional government returned the favor by closing its borders with all ECOWAS member states except Guinea.

These sanctions will have devastating consequences for the population and the humanitarian situation in Mali. The people of Mali are already facing the worst food insecurity in 10 years, with more than 7.5 million people – more than a third of the country’s population – in need of humanitarian assistance. It is essential that these new restrictions do not further hinder people’s ability to access humanitarian aid and basic social services in a country where 70% of food is imported and where 1.2 million Malians face to a food crisis. Mali is heavily dependent on foreign aid to finance basic social services. In health, for example, external donors covered 33% of total health expenditure in 2019.

The United States also underlined its support for ECOWAS, while France – in the first weeks of its presidency of the Council of the European Union – suspended flights to Mali.

The 13 organizations are calling for urgent humanitarian exemptions to sanctions and all related administrative processes need to be clarified urgently, in order to protect the humanitarian response in Mali. To continue their work effectively, humanitarian actors must have unhindered access for the transport of vital goods, including food and medicine, as well as guarantees that they can transfer funds into the country without violating sanctions.

Mali, ECOWAS and members of the international community supporting these sanctions must monitor their impact and make an unequivocal commitment to apply the humanitarian exemptions in accordance with existing guidelines – taking all necessary measures to limit the impact of these measures on civilians.

Franck Vannetelle, Country Director of the International Rescue Committee in Mali, says:

“Although more than a third of the country’s population depends on humanitarian aid, organizations working in Mali already face severe access constraints. It is imperative that the international community continue to respond to the urgent needs of the populations and that any new sanctions include concrete humanitarian exemptions. These must be monitored and implemented, otherwise the most vulnerable people in Mali will pay the price. »

The full list of signatories includes:

International Rescue Committee

Action against Hunger



Danish Refugee Council


body of mercy

Help from the Norwegian Church

Norwegian Refugee Council


International level

Land of men

World Vision

About IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore the health, safety, education, economic well-being and power of people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC works in more than 40 countries and more than 20 American cities to help people survive, regain control of their future and strengthen their communities. . Learn more at and follow the IRC at Twitter & Facebook.

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