Sahara News Update, November, 2021
update has been compiled by Christer Wilkinson from a variety
Conflict Group Reports
Readers are reminded that the Crisis Group (www.crisisgroup.org) publishes
a detailed monthly report on all rebel attacks and other violent incidents
in the three countries covered in this news summary and other countries
including Burkina Faso.
No fresh news on the western hostages, but in case you have forgotten
who is still being held, here is the status as far as I can determine:
Romanian mineworker Iulian Ghergut was grabbed by armed men in Burkina
Faso on April 4, 2015.
Arthur Kenneth Elliott
The 82-year-old Australian surgeon was kidnapped in Burkina Faso on
January 15, 2016 with his wife Jocelyn by the jihadist group Ansar Dine;
his wife was released.
American aid worker Jeffery Woodke was kidnapped in the central Niger
town of Abalak on October 14, 2016 where he had been working for an
German aid worker Jorg Lange was kidnapped on April 11, 2018, in western
Niger and reportedly taken to the north, not far from the border with
French journalist Olivier Dubois appeared in a short video on social
media Wednesday saying he had been abducted in Gao, central Mali on
April 8 2021
At the time of this report the “total cases” Covid figures
were: Niger 7,163, Mali 18,627, and Tchad 5,703 cases. Due to different
collection criteria these figures are not completely comparable.
These reported case counts are low compared with other countries, and
reflect a surprisingly low per capita infection rate and an overall
low infection rate. Niger for example, has one of the lowest per capita
rates of infection in the world. Unlike some other countries there is
no evidence of deliberate mis-reporting
Migrant trends northbound.
Only the IOM DTM site report for Mali was issued
for November at the time of preparing this report.
It should be noted that these figures in these reports are only for
migrants at the monitoring points and migrants who avoid these points
are not included. In addition, the accumulation of refugees at remote
frontier points such as Assamaka are not included, nor are repatriation
convoys or organized rescues.
No reports for the month were available from either Niger or Tchad.
The figures (estimated where full details are not available) show migrant
traffic across the northern borders of Mali, as follows:
Mali: Summed over all northern monitoring stations: 54/day north to
Algeria and 6/day back from Algeria.
The conflict in Mali continues. The reports of jihadist attacks, and
clashes between various groups and Jihadist becomes difficult to follow.
These clashes are increasingly not just in the north but occur almost
all over Mali. As always, details are available in the Crisis groups
ECOWAS finally lost patience with the junta’s regime, and the
delays to the presidential elections process, and imposed sanctions,
including specific sanctions on 150 of the Malian government staff in
Meanwhile on the 5th November, the junta authorities announced the arrest
of six people for allegedly plotting a coup: including two who had previously
server under the previous deposed president, Bah N’Daw.
During the month of November, the French evacuated Tessalit, their most
northern base, just south of the Algerian Frontier. It was handed over
to Mali forces. They had already evacuated Kidal and Timbuctoo is due
to follow. The bases in Gao and Menaka are to remain, for now.
The US Secretary of State in late November warned a ”shadowy”
Russian company, the Wagner group, not to interfere in the efforts to
restore democracy in Mali after, earlier in the month, the foreign minister
of Mali, Abdulaye Diap, reportedly visited Russia at the invitation
of the Russians.
A shipment of Neolithic of artifacts found in 2009 by US Customs has
finally been shipped back to Mali.
The number of violent incidents with Jihadists in Niger is nothing like
that in Mali, but is still significant with some deadly incidents: the
south east area near to Lake Tchad seems to be getting quieter, but
the area to the south west near Burkina Faso and Mali has become a “war
Early in November, jihadists ambushed a self-defense group in the Tillabery
department reportedly killing at least 69, and two days after stormed
an army position in the same area, killing some 15 people.
Then in late November whilst passing through this area from Burkina
Faso to Niger, A French military convoy met a demonstration of people
estimated at about 200, protesting against the French troops who were
on a regular transit route.
One report indicated that some 2 people were killed and 18 injured in
this protest against the French which occurred near Tera, which is only
97 miles west of the capital. Reports on how the incident started vary.
In mid-month another group of Jihadists stormed another self-defense
group in the Tillia department near Tahoua, killing at least 40 people.
Causality reports vary.
Near Maradi, in the south of the country, another school caught fire
in early November with at least 25 children being killed. This follows
a similar incident earlier this year at another locations nearer the
In the same area, near Maradi, an artisanal gold mine collapsed killing
a reported 18 people and injured several.
Comparatively speaking, Tchad has been quiet this period. Very few reports
of incidents and attacks by Boko Harem around Lake Tchad have been reported.
The strike by the employees at the Doba oil basin operated by Exxon
has gone into another phase. Exxon has filed a summons against their
delegates in the capital: large numbers then arrived to demonstrate
at the N’Djamena High court. Exxon is planning to sell the use
of this oil basin, and is trying to settle the strike.
There were significant demonstrations against the Governor of the province
of Boukou North, in Faya. One resulted in a death and two injuries.
A local army leader Col. Sougou, who had accused the government of colluding
with armed robbers, and was arrested in late October, was released but
then dismissed from the Tchad Army. One cause of the protest, vehicle
checks, was suspended till mid-December. Then in late November the governor,
Acheick was replaced by Salah Aldjineidi, reportedly a former Defense
Also, in late November the Tchad government announced a general amnesty
for rebels and opponents in a move to help the “national dialogue”,
after several rebel groups reportedly refused to disarm.