Yannick Tarres, security consultant for Expat Preventive

Working in Mali is very well possible

Yannick Tarres, security consultant for Expat Preventive
Yannick Tarres, security consultant for Expat Preventive

Mali faces many challenges and its security situation is deteriorating. How safe is Mali for foreign travelers? Yannick Tarres, security consultant for Expat Preventive, visited Mali for a security assessment for a Dutch organization. “Working in Mali is very well possible.”

A client of Expat Preventive is increasing its activities in Mali, and will open a new office in the near future. This means employees and consultants from the Netherlands will be travelling to Mali more regularly. Expat Preventive was asked to travel to Mali for a security assessment: which procedures should the organization take? Where can they accommodate their staff? What is the safest way to travel?

“Mali is a great country. People are friendly and the atmosphere seems to be relaxed at first glance”, says security consultant Yannick Tarres, who served the French navy for almost two decades and lived in Djibouti and Dubai. “But the fact is radicalization is increasing. You are never safe in Mali.”

On June 18 2017 the world was shocked by the news of a terrorist attack at Le Campement Resort in Kangaba, which resulted in multiple casualties. This was unfortunately one of the many security incidents in Mali since 2012. A mix of ethnic tensions, the desire for independence of the Touareg, influx of jihadists and weak governance have caused this situation. Although an Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation has been reached by some parties in 2015, the situation is far from secure. It has continued to deteriorate reaching new proportions from 2016 onwards.

“Always ask yourself: is this visit worth it?“
Attacks on places that are frequently visited by foreigners, are not rare. Many restaurants and hotels in capital Bamako are now behind walls and fences. “All places where expats leisure are possible targets. Every hotel. Every resort. The question is not: will it happen? But rather: When will it happen? Of course, people need a place to relax. Still, my advice to every traveller would be to always ask yourself: is it worth it?“

Despite the complex security situation, the safety advisor wouldn’t say travelling to Mali is not possible. “The most important advice is: be vigilant, keep a low profile and monitor the local security situation closely. Be aware of the situation and your surroundings. Then I see no reason not to travel to this great country.”

Structural security management is key for safety in complex environments like Mali. Visitors should systematically and regularly check their security plans and make sure they are up to date. Regular debriefings of employees are of vital importance for these updates. Visitors are advised to continuously asses the relationship between the profile of themselves, their employer and their environment and make sure to take appropriate personal safety measures.

Tarres: “It is vital employees are completely informed, and that they understand the measures that are taken. Fortunately, the client we worked for, is taking this extremely serious.”

Tip: You can monitor daily developments in English through the BBC World Service (88.9 FM in Bamako).

(Sep 2017)

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