News / Africa

Mali Security Measures Hinder Humanitarian Access to Civilians

Mali Security Measures Hinder Humanitarian Access to Civiliansi
X
January 21, 2013 6:05 PM
Concern is growing for Malian civilians caught in the fighting in the north and central parts of the country. French and Malian forces are trying to dislodge al-Qaida linked rebels who have controlled northern Mali since April and who began a push south on January 9. Aid agencies say military security measures are restricting humanitarian access to combat zones. As fighting escalates, authorities are confronted by the question of how to protect civilians amid fears that the enemy is hiding among them. VOA's Anne Look has more from Bamako.

Mali Security Measures Hinder Humanitarian Access to Civilians

Anne Look
Concern is growing for Malian civilians caught in the fighting in the north and central parts of the country. French and Malian forces are trying to dislodge al-Qaida linked rebels who have controlled northern Mali since April and who began a push south on January 9. Aid agencies say military security measures are restricting humanitarian access to combat zones. As fighting escalates, authorities are confronted by the question of how to protect civilians amid fears that the enemy is hiding among them.

Hannatou Bocoum made it to Bamako Saturday, 10 days after her town, Konna, became the first to fall to Islamist rebels in this most recent offensive.  The town was later bombed by the French.
 
"There was bombing everywhere and so much heavy gunfire that it made the houses shake. It was difficult to leave….Many residents went across the river. After three days, I went to a nearby village. I waited there for three more days. The military would not let people out towards Mopti because they said rebels had used public transport to get in to Konna. After three more days, I was able to convince the military to take me to Mopti on a moto," Bocoum said.
 
Military checkpoints litter the road south to Bamako. The army has retaken Konna but has closed roads heading north from Mopti into rebel-held territory, fearing infiltration.
 
Moctar Mariko of the Malian Association for Human Rights says both sides must open a humanitarian corridor to allow aid to come in and people to get out.
 
"Civilians have the right to flee combat zones, to go look for food and medical care. Both the Malian military and the rebels need to accept to open this corridor and not drag this otherwise peaceful population into the fighting. They did not ask for this. …If this corridor is not opened, we are going to see inestimable losses among civilians and their belongings," Mariko said.
 
Rebels have cut cell phone links to parts of the occupied territory, like the city of Gao.
 
Displaced northerners, like Faty Toure in Bamako, haven't been able to reach family there for more than a week.
 
"We are worried how they are getting clean drinking water. Before the phones were cut, they told us they didn't have petrol to pump water. How are they going to get food and water? They will get sick drinking from the river," Toure said.
 
In the central west part of the country, French and Malian forces are restricting access to the town of Diabaly, which Islamists seized and then appear to have abandoned.  
 
Malian army colonel Seibou Sokoba said it is hard to tell rebels and non-rebels apart.
 
"You know the war against Islamists is not easy. They have mixed in deep within the population and slowly, slowly certain elements of the population will adhere to their cause. That's what makes war difficult with these people," Sokoba said.

Human rights groups say that logic is leading to army abuses and revenge attacks against civilians, in particular against lighter-skinned Arab and Tuareg northerners, who are perceived to be rebel supporters.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid