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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Role in Fighting IS Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Enter Public Office in Record Numbers

A steady deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid