“Every morning… I’m afraid of waking up and getting bad news,” said Ousmane Sangare, wrestling with the cold at the open-air eatery in the Paris suburb where he works. Sangare is from Mopti, a town at the confluence of the Niger and Bani rivers that in halcyon days was promoted to tourists as “the Venice of Mali”. Today, Mopti lies in the heart of a region torn by violence. More than seven years ago, jihadist insurgents moved into central Mali, carrying out massacres and inflaming longstanding ethnic rivalries. Now, barely a day goes by there without further traumatic news. “My uncles, my friends, my childhood acquaintances all live there,” Sangare said. “When I wake up, the first thing I do is check in with them to see if they are OK.” The 32-year-old said he came to France in 2012 after being unable to find work in Mali. He is now at the “Crousti Poulet” outdoor grill in the eastern Paris suburb of Montreuil, where each day he grills dozens of chicken legs, served up with a hefty portion of rice. His daily fears are shared by many in the Malian community in France, the former colonial power. Around 150,000 Malians are officially registered with their consulate in France, according to the High Commission for the African Diaspora in France (HCDAF). This number rises to as much as a million if illegal migrants, joint nationals and second-and-third generation Malians are included, says the High Council for the Malian Diaspora in France (CSDMF). In the past, French people were mainly familiar with Malians as workers in manual and often poorly paid jobs — construction, sweeping roads, cleaning offices or working in kitchens. But the diaspora has diversified in recent decades, with growing numbers of expats or second-generation Malians who work in offices or the creative arts, or as business executives or entrepreneurs. Mali’s security crisis has gone hand-in-hand with a row between its ruling junta and France, the country’s traditional ally, and amplified an economic crisis gripping a country that is already one of the poorest in the world. Malians in France said they too felt their homeland’s economic pain, because many send back more of their earnings to help their families get by. “We live more for our families than for ourselves,” said Sangare. “Whatever we earn, we share.” In Ferte-Gaucher, a small town about 70 kilometres (35 miles) from Paris, Kadiatou Coulibaly, 50, was sending money home to her 83-year-old mother at a money transfer office. These days she is sending home 150 euros ($160) a month, “sometimes 200”, to help her mother and younger brother living in violence-torn Segou. “A year ago, 70 euros was sufficient,” said Coulibaly, who lives in a nearby village and works in supplier relations for the Printemps retail chain. “It’s for their survival.” “We live in a state of permanent stress,” she said, her voice breaking. “I dread it when I have an incoming call and see that it’s from Mali.” Samba Gassama, a 36-year-old blogger, is one of the most influential Malians on social media, with a following of 100,000 people. “I am quite worried about the country’s situation right now,” he said in a conversation in a Paris cafe. “It’s really hard to see a way out of what’s been going on for the past 10 years,” he said, referring to when a revolt broke out in northern Mali and mutated into the jihadist insurgency. Anger within the military at the rising toll sparked a coup in 2020, and another in 2021.