News / Africa

Aid Group Warns Against IDP Return to Mali North

FILE - A photo taken on April 10, 2013 shows French soldiers taking part, 105 kms north of the northeastern Malian city of Gao, in an operation to find Islamist fighters.
FILE - A photo taken on April 10, 2013 shows French soldiers taking part, 105 kms north of the northeastern Malian city of Gao, in an operation to find Islamist fighters.

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on displaced people in Mali

Joe DeCapua
The humanitarian group – Refugees International – says it’s too soon to send displaced Malians back home. The ngo calls the government move to return them to the north dangerously premature.


Refugees International has released a new report called Hidden and in Need: Urban Displacement in Southern Mali.

Michelle Brown, RI’s Senior Advocate and the group’s representative to the United Nations,  said, “The government has been encouraging IDPs to return to the north because, as you know, returns are often very political. IDP and refugee returns show a certain level of stability. And the government is eager to show that they have regained control over the north and that the security threats have diminished. And as we’ve seen that’s not the case.”

It’s estimated most of Mali’s 283,000 displaced people live in the south.  But Brown said tens of thousands have returned to the north.

“It’s still not secure enough for widespread returns and basic services are not in place to the level necessary to allow for widespread returns.”

Refugees International bases its findings on comments from Malians who have returned to the north.

“They explain that government officials have not returned to the north in any significant way. You know, they might go to the north for a night and then return to Bamako. And they’re also worried about the level of security. They’re worried about the lack of presence of police. And they believe that in many cases it’s too insecure for them to return,” she said.

Brown said it’s also too dangerous for many displaced women and girls to go back north.

“Many women experience sexual violence in the north. Of course we don’t know the numbers, but in our interviews it was widespread enough to be of a concern. And many women and girls were subject to forced and early marriage to some of the armed actors in the north. So when they came to the south – when they fled to the south – they were extremely traumatized and there were very few services available for them. So very few psychological services -- and healthcare was somewhat limited to respond to the specific health needs of sexual violence,” she said.

She also said many women were forced to have – what she calls – survival sex – to get the resources necessary to feed their families.

Most Malian IDPs in the south, she said, are not in camps, but in rented housing or with host families.

“Basic services are lacking in the south. Most Malians are impoverished and the government has not been able to provide the services that they need. So when you have an influx of IDPs it makes competition for services severe. It leads to an increase in rent – increase in the price of food – increased competition for employment opportunities.”

Brown added that Refugee International and many other humanitarian organizations say the terrorist threat remains very real. Three al Qaeda-linked groups invaded northern Mali last year. It took French-led intervention to drive out the militias from Gao and many other places. However, insecurity remains a problem and periodic attacks still occur.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs