News / Africa

Journalists Face Hurdles Reaching Northern Mali

A Malian soldier gestures at journalists to leave the area of a French air strike. Image was taken during an official visit organized by the Malian army to the town of Konna, north of Mali's capital Bamako, January 26, 2013.
A Malian soldier gestures at journalists to leave the area of a French air strike. Image was taken during an official visit organized by the Malian army to the town of Konna, north of Mali's capital Bamako, January 26, 2013.
Nancy Palus
Media advocacy groups say the offensive by French and Malian troops against Islamist militants in northern Mali has taken place largely out of view, as journalists’ access has been severely limited. Little by little local and international reporters are getting into the north, but some say access remains difficult.
 
Many journalists covering the situation in Mali - especially foreign reporters - have spent a good bit of time trying to get beyond Sévaré, the central town that was the dividing line between the government-controlled south and rebel-held north.
 
Reporters who were in Mali when fighting broke out in January said the military blocked journalists from entering two of the first towns to see combat - Konna and Diabaly - for several days.  When journalists finally arrived the towns were full of soldiers and residents appeared afraid to recount what they saw.
 
The press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders has expressed concern about what it calls "a grave obstruction," urging the Malian and French authorities to allow reporters to move about freely.
 
Malian Defense Ministry spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Diarran Koné said aside from barring civilians from combat zones for their own safety, the authorities are not restricting journalists.  He commented on the “very, very, very many reporters” who have flooded into Mali in recent weeks, saying all of those requesting accreditation are receiving it.  But some journalists are finding that in many cases that piece of paper is not enough.
 
Journalist Katarina Höije, who spoke with VOA by phone from Mopti in central Mali, said even with the required authorization papers from the Information Ministry, many journalists are being blocked from moving north.  
 
"You get through most checkpoints with this but as soon as you get to a major town or try to leave a town north of Sévaré there’s problems," Höije said. "They say you have to have special accreditation from the ministry of defense… It enables you to move around but still you’re in Sévaré, you’re very, very far from the front and anything that’s actually happening."

She said that on Wednesday she and some other reporters who made it to Douentza, northeast of Sévaré, were ordered by Malian soldiers to turn back.  She said often the military authorities tell journalists it is for their own protection.
 
Indeed safety is an issue.  European or North American journalists are at risk for kidnapping.  And it appears that some of the roads are mined.  Four Malian soldiers were killed when their vehicle hit a mine outside the northern city of Gao on Thursday.
 
But Reporters Without Borders said in a January 17 statement: “In war time, it is up to journalists and their news organizations, not the military, to determine the risk they are prepared to take in order to gather information.”
 
For concerns over possible mines, and to avoid being turned back by Malian soldiers at roadblocks, some journalists are resorting to paying as much as 2,000 euro for private charter flights to the north.
 
One Malian journalist, who spoke with VOA while on the road back to the capital Bamako from Gao, said he has seen a number of journalists, particularly foreign reporters, blocked at Sévaré.  But he said by now a number of foreign journalists have made it to the north; he saw several in Gao.
 
One western journalist said the French military has taken journalists up in planes or convoys but space is limited.  She said the access restrictions are frustrating but that there are legitimate security concerns.
 
Freelance journalist Marc-André Boisvert has been to Mali several times in recent months, including one trip three weeks ago just after the fighting began.  He said that even several months back, during the occupation of the north, the Malian authorities were blocking journalists at Sévaré.
 
Journalist Höije said the world is getting a piecemeal picture of what is happening in northern Mali.
 
"The reporting is very limited. We would see a completely different picture if more journalists were let up there," she said.

Reporters Without Borders says it is critical that journalists be allowed to see for themselves what is happening on the ground, especially amid reports of war crimes by Malian soldiers.
 
Human rights groups are calling for investigations into alleged rights violations by both the Malian army and Islamic militants.

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John
January 31, 2013 6:23 PM
The French are having to beg logistic support from the Yanks and the Brits. The African intervention force is still not there, in part because the African countries certainly can't provide the transport. If a journo was kidnapped, and her rape and torture displayed on YouTube, the political pressure from the media to waste resources trying to find her would be irresistible. Forcing such pests to pay thousands of euros for their own transport is only common sense.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

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