A group of displaced Fulani herdsmen and their families who fled communal violence in central Mali have set up a refugee camp in a landfill in the capital Bamako, where they’ve been living since December 2018. Our Observers documented their terrible living conditions in the hopes of getting the attention of local authorities and prompting them to act.

There is rubbish everywhere in the series of photos taken by Salif Diarra. The images show children playing in the rubbish, women doing their washing and goats grazing amongst the garbage. In the Faladié camp in central Bamako, even the makeshift tents that people are living in are made out of rubbish including bits of canvas and mats.

"The smell is unbearable. There is always rubbish being burned"

A journalist at maliactu.net made a video about the camp conditions. However, when the video didn’t get the traction that he had hoped for, he decided to go and see the rubbish dump for himself. It is right near the Faladié livestock market.

I thought that if I took striking photos of the camp, people would react. I saw too many children living there in those conditions. I wanted to make sure that people on social media knew what was going on.

The camp itself is built on heaps of garbage. The smell is unbearable. There's always rubbish burning, which is why you see some smoke in all my pictures.

People have to burn their rubbish to reduce the volume of their waste. However, the problem is that it is very hard to put out fires here, it is always smoldering away somewhere. Sometimes, one of the tents will catch fire and the smoke is really dangerous and toxic.


There is always rubbish burning in the Faladié landfill where a group of refugees set up camp. (Photo: Salif Diarra)

(Photo: Salif Diarra)
 
(Photo: Salif Diarra)

Under normal circumstances, people aren’t allowed to build in this area because it is so close to the Bamako airport. Occasionally, livestock farmers stay here for a short periods on their way to and from the Faladié livestock market.

Faladié camp was set up in a landfill near a livestock market.

The people living in the camp are all Fulani, who fled communal violence in central Mali. Recently, the violence caused by land disputes between Fulani herdsmen and Dogon farmers has been getting worse. On January 1, 2019, an estimated 37 civilians were killed during an attack on the Fulani village of Koulogon.

The people living in the camp are all Fulani, who fled communal fighting in central Mali. Recently, violence caused by land disputes between Fulani herdsmen and Dogon farmers has been getting worse. On January 1, 2019, an estimated 37 civilians were killed during an attack on the Fulani village of Koulogon.

These IDPs (internally displaced people) come from the Mopti region in central Mali. They started arriving here about six months ago but the numbers have been increasing at a much faster rate since December. Currently, there are 116 adults and 203 children under the age of 15 living in Faladié.

The Fulani IDPs set up their camp here because the president of the association that manages livestock sales in Faladié is a well-known Fulani man from Mopti. He offered the land to the IDPs. He tries to organise the camp a bit but it hasn’t really worked.

Another journalist, Boubacar Labasse Koné, who works for journaldumali.com also reached out to the France 24 Observers about this situation after a child "died because of the living conditions in the camp. His lungs were  haemorrhaging and the doctor couldn’t do anything to save him".

"I could never imagine so awful a camp existing right by my home"

On February 8, Diahara Touré, a law student in Bamako, saw the photos that Salif Diarra had posted on Twitter. Touré was horrified.

I could never have imagined that there were refugees living in Bamako, near my home, in such terrible conditions. Two days later, I went to the site to see it with my own eyes. I also posted photos on Twitter and asked people to come help. Lots of young people responded to my call to action.

We created a WhatsApp group where we talk about the camp and how to help. Now I give my number to people who want more information about the IDPs and what they can do.

We’ve been collecting donations from people living in Mali and abroad. For the time being, we’ve gathered more than 2.2 million CFA francs (close to 3,500 euros). We used the money to buy food, clothing and shoes that we distributed in Faladié on February 16. We have already gone to bring them water.

We’ve been organising medical help for some of the kids in the camp who are sick. That place is incredibly dangerous for their health. We don’t have money to find another site for the IDPs but we want to get the attention of the authorities-- who are acting as if there was nothing wrong with this situation!

The Observers was given this video by Diahara Touré
 
The Observers was given this video by Diahara Touré
 
In and around the Malian capital, there are at least four different Fulani camps, where nearly 1,000 IDPs who fled Dogon violence are living, according to Tabital Pulaaku, a Fulani organisation.
 

This article was written by Pierre Hamdi (@PierreHamdi).