While ECOWAS has just pronounced unprecedented sanctions against Mali, it is undoubtedly useful to recall that if they aim to punish a clique of greedy brains, the victims will once again be the populations, for the most part destitute, and therefore consequently, the environment. As we supported a project there, we have a little idea of the situation on the ground.
Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an HDI ranking 184th out of 195 countries, 47.3% of the population lives in a situation of extreme poverty, including a degradation of 5% in 2020 following the health, social, and security crisis while entire swathes of the territory escape the control of a failing state. With regards to the trade balance, driven by gold exports, it is structurally in deficit and depends largely on the prices of basic products: - € 815M, i.e. a deficit of -5.32% in 2020. Let us not lose sight of the debt: 51% of GDP before the pandemic which further lowered the growth rate from + 5% to -2%. What are these sanctions which are going to tip the scales a little more...
The closure of the borders between Mali and ECOWAS member countries:
• The freezing of Malian assets within the Central Bank of West African States,
• The suspension of transactions except for basic necessities and pharmaceuticals,
• The cut-off of financial aid,
• Reminder of ambassadors of member countries in Mali.
Whoops ! But who will pay the salaries of the civil servants, and the military, the utilities, the debt and the like? However, virtuous human rights defenders Russia and China have used their veto rights at the UN to block a resolution supporting the measures taken by ECOWAS.
Now, the security situation darkens the picture a little more. The valiant soldiers of the junta therefore found the solution to defeat jihadism by appealing to Wagner's militiamen, despite their vehement denials. As far as Russian mercenaries are concerned, their valuable services are not voluntary and come at a price. In addition to the fact that the latter are deemed to live partly from plunder on the ground at the expense of the population, according to sources cited by Reuters, the contract would provide for a monthly remuneration of € 9.15 million, as well as access to 3 mineral deposits, including 2 gold, which may affect the trade balance a little more.
Visiting the beneficiaries of our project had already been called into question by the advance of the jihadists, but now the Malian army is leading the fight there, assisted by 300 Russian mercenaries. This is called a vicious cycle, right?