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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid