10 January 2014
In an Update to its position on returns to Mali, UNHCR considers that the situation in southern Mali has normalised sufficiently for UNHCR to withdraw their call for suspension of forcible returns to this part of the country for persons who had their asylum claims rejected on the merits in a fair procedure. However, UNHCR considers the situation in northern Mali ‘not yet conducive for sustainable returns in safety and dignity’.
The change of stance is in part based on the recent successful Presidential and Legislative elections, a peace agreement in June 2013, and UN-led stabilising supervision of the country since April 2013. Anyone from southern Mali may still seek international protection for individualized reasons and their claim for international protection needs to be assessed in accordance with established asylum procedures, taking into account the individual circumstances of the case.
According to UNHCR, the situation in northern Mali ‘remains volatile’, with reported reprisals against returnees. Militias with a record of human rights abuses are still active, and the population continues to rely on humanitarian assistance.
UNHCR states that it is not reasonable for potential returnees to the north to be relocated to the south as, according to UNHCR, ‘many of these individuals would end up in a situation of internal displacement’.