In 2012, Northern Mali fell into the hands of armed jihadist groups. Operation Serval, led by France, was immediately launched to liberate the occupied territory but the crisis only intensified. The Malian crisis is above all a story of failure – failure of a state, but also the failure of the international community that supported it. This failure has become the breeding ground for jihadists and has led the military to a dead end. How did it come to this?
It was a crisis that began in the early 2000s, with the arrival in Mali of Algerian jihadists. A presence that did not worry the Malian power of the time, who believed they would be safe if they left the jihadists alone. As the problems grew more apparent, the international community looked away, preferring to see Mali as an example of democracy in Africa. But this democracy was just an illusion. When the jihadists took control of the North and imposed sharia law, the French sent in the army. But without a political solution, the military was blocked. Aid money is embezzled and corruption is institutionalised.
France wants to find a way out and is banking on a European alliance. But the crisis in Mali has crossed borders. Burkina Faso and Niger are suffering from the same problems and now coastal countries are threatened. If Islamist terrorism cannot be eradicated, it must be contained. But at what cost?
Meanwhile, civilians remain the forgotten victims of this crisis. Violence in the Sahel has displaced over two million people. A figure that has quadrupled in less than two years. These refugees are settling wherever they can, as in this no-man’s land forgotten by the world, near Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. A true struggle for survival…