Slavery and Forced Migration in Western Mali

Esclavage et migrations forcées dans l’Ouest du Mali

SlaFMig: What is it?

The SlaFMig action research program is led by Dr. Marie Rodet of SOAS University in London in collaboration with Professor Bakary Camara, Director of the LERDDL at the University of Legal and Political Sciences in Bamako, Dr. Lotte Pelckmans of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and the Malian association Donkosira, represented by Mamadou Sène Cissé.

SlaFMig is a three-year research project (2020-2023) funded by the British research agency UKRI under the GCRF fund.

The SlaFMig program aims to analyze the past and present links between protracted forced displacement and descent-based slavery in Western Mali in order to propose appropriate solutions. We are interested in the circumstances in which these displacements have occurred over the past hundred years and why they have not always been addressed by colonial and post-colonial authorities.
These forced displacements linked to slavery (which take place mainly in rural areas) pose real challenges to the development and socio-economic integration of the displaced communities and the region as a whole.
These populations experience difficulty in accessing essential resources, such as access to land and economic development support, which often prevent them from leading stable and peaceful lives.
As a result, displaced populations fleeing slavery remain vulnerable to other forms of exploitation, such as modern slavery.
Mali does not yet have a law criminalizing descent-based slavery that could protect these populations during their attempts to claim their rights to equality.

This action research program is accompanied by outreach and awareness-raising activities by the Malian association Donkosira. Such awareness campaigns are conducted among Malian populations to combat the discrimination that certain communities in Western Mali are subjected to because of their local categorization as “slaves”.