News / Africa

Aid Groups Warn of Humanitarian Risks of Mali Offensive

Anne Look
Humanitarian agencies are warning of the many risks to civilians presented by a likely military offensive against al-Qaida-linked extremists in control of northern Mali since April. Their call came as the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted in favor of a phased, African-led military deployment to Mali next year.

Four hundred twelve thousand people have fled their homes in northern Mali since the start of the year as fighting morphed from a Tuareg separatist rebellion in January to an occupation by al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants beginning in April.

Aid agencies said the numbers of displaced and refugees could swell by hundreds of thousands with renewed fighting in 2013.

Ten humanitarian NGO's (Non-governmental agencies) working in Mali issued a joint statement Thursday as the U.N. Security Council gave the green light to a regional military deployment to Mali. The U.N. resolution did not specify when an offensive would happen, though officials have said it would not be before September 2013.

The ten aid groups said the military offensive would have "serious humanitarian consequences and requires serious safeguards" to protect civilians.  

World Vision International's Mali Director, Justin Douglass, said the crisis in 2012 already coincided with drought and severe food shortages throughout the Sahel region. "We've had over four million people in Mali who do not have enough food," he said.

"If there's going to be military intervention, the people who will be going ahead with it need to consider the needs of the most vulnerable, especially the women and the children, because they are already under a lot of stress, and to have a military intervention without considering them will just make matters worse," he added.

Military experts take part in a meeting to discuss the Mali crisis in Bamako, October 30, 2012.Military experts take part in a meeting to discuss the Mali crisis in Bamako, October 30, 2012.
x
Military experts take part in a meeting to discuss the Mali crisis in Bamako, October 30, 2012.
Military experts take part in a meeting to discuss the Mali crisis in Bamako, October 30, 2012.
Douglass said military planners need to make sure that aid agencies can reach civilians fleeing any fighting.

All scenarios appear to remain possible for 2013. Terrorist attacks, further political unrest or a spillover of the conflict into southern Mali or neighboring countries are among the things that could complicate humanitarian response.

Fighting could destroy farmlands and infrastructure. Displacement heightens the risk of a cholera outbreak and puts women and girls in greater danger of sexual violence.

The aid agencies said they support ongoing efforts to negotiate with at least some of the armed groups in the north to find a peaceful and enduring solution to the crisis.

They said the U.N. Security Council must make sure that all troops involved in any internationally backed offensive are trained in international law about human rights and refugees to prevent harm to civilians and their property.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid