News / Africa

200,000 Remain Displaced in Mali

FILE - A boy who fled northern Mali is seen at a camp for internally displaced persons, about 620 kilometers north of Bamako, in the city of Sevare, Mali.
FILE - A boy who fled northern Mali is seen at a camp for internally displaced persons, about 620 kilometers north of Bamako, in the city of Sevare, Mali.

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Joe DeCapua
A new report says while the conflict in Mali may be over, there are hundreds of thousands of people still in need of humanitarian aid. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center says many uprooted Malians are now part of the urban poor.


Mali remains in recovery after French-led forces last year defeated armed groups that had taken over the north of the country. The groups had declared the north to be a separate Islamic state under strict Sharia laws. They destroyed many cultural and historic sites.

The IDMC says many internally displaced people, or IDPs, in Mali have been forgotten.

“Things are slowly, but steadily, improving. We’re now down from a peak of 350,000 internally displaced people in June of 2013. And there are currently roughly 200,000 internally displaced people, who have fled the violence in the north during Mali’s crisis. What IDMC is trying to call attention to is this nearly 50-percent of the internally displaced population who have been left behind in Mali’s southern cities with ever growing needs,” said Elizabeth Rushing is the group’s country analyst for West Africa.

Most of Mali’s IDPs in the south – about 46,000 – are in the capital Bamako. The rest are in Koulikoro, Segou, Sikasso and Mopti.

She said, “Many of them have been there for nearly two years now. They’re hungry. They can’t feed their children. They don’t have any money. And a lot of them have no safe or secure place to live. We met with numerous internally displaced people, who couldn’t pay their rent. A lot of them had been forced to sell all of their goods to pay for the ticket to come to the safer places in the south – which meant they weren’t able to restart their livelihoods upon arrival.”

Many, she said, suffered psychological trauma from what they witnessed in northern Mali.

Rushing said the south is becoming – what she calls -- a humanitarian void.

“Humanitarian aid has by no means stopped, but what we’re seeing is really a focus on the north at the expense of the south of Mali. This focus on the north is understandable because this was the region that was hardest hit during the crisis. But there is a risk of increasing vulnerability if these people, who choose or do not have any other option or for whatever reason are staying in the south, do not continue to get medium to longer term support.”

The government has encouraged IDPs to return to the north – although there’s still some insecurity there. Rushing said that humanitarian groups have been pressured to follow the government’s lead and shift budgetary priorities to the north.

While most of the violence has stopped, IDPs face a different problem. Rushing described it as a “legal limbo.” She said they may not know their rights under the Kampala Convention -- a regional African agreement that requires governments to provide them legal protection.

“They have three settlement options,” she said, “One is to return back to their homes from which they originated. The second is to integrate locally where they find themselves living in displacement. And the third is to settle elsewhere in the country. And the Kampala Convention enshrines all three of these rights. And Mali has ratified and is thus legally bound by the Kampala Convention.”

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center said too much emphasis is being placed on the return option. It’s sending a team to Mali soon to raise awareness about IDP rights and to lobby for sustained assistance for those who – for whatever reason – remain in the south.

The IDMC’s briefing paper is entitled: Left Behind: IDPs forgotten in Mali’s southern cities.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid