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 Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs