Mass evictions for an ‘airport zone’ next to Modibo Keita Airport, Mali’s main airport on the outskirts of Bamako, the capital city, began on 20th April 1995. Without warning, the government began bulldozing the Senou neighbourhood to make way for expansion of the zone. Demolitions continued for ten days and about 3,707 families, approximately 30,000 people, were forcibly evicted. Further waves of demolitions followed with many instances of land grabbing and speculation. Farmers were displaced for a fertilizer plant on the land in 2007-8 and in 2009 residents resisted instructions to leave the land. A drive to clear remaining communities began in 2021. Bulldozers arrived early in the morning of 14th January, in a major eviction drive covering 1,600 hectares; about 20,000 families in 11 neighbourhoods were impacted. About 800 evictees said they had permits to occupy the land and many affected people were left destitute without shelter.
The ‘airport zone’ – zone aéroportuaire Modibo Kéita – is vast, extending over 7,194 hectares northwest of the airport. It was classified as a plot of land for airport company use in 1999. Residents contest government claims that their occupation of the airport zone is illicit; they have lived on the land for several generations. An inhabitants’ organization – Plateforme deshabitants de la zone dite aéroportuaire (PHZA) – has been established with active groups, sometimes holding different views about land management, in many affected villages. Women, some of them elderly, play a prominent role in resistance against eviction from the ‘so-called airport zone’. The land struggle is supported by l’Union des Associations et Coordinations d’associations pour le Dévelopement et la Défense des Droits des Démunis (UACDDDD), a national federation fighting the injustices of dispossession. Demonstrations and meetings about the airport zone have been attended by hundreds of people. In November 2021 an independent national commission of inquiry to investigate demolitions in the airport area was established.
For more information about the Modibo Keita airport zone evictions see the case report on EJatlas, the world’s largest, most comprehensive online database of social conflict around environmental issues: Modibo Keith airport zone, Mali