News / Africa

Malians Warned of Unsafe Conditions

Many IDPs living in Bamako are waiting for security conditions in the north to improve before they begin the long journey back home. (Photo: IDMC/E. J. Rushing, October 2012)
Many IDPs living in Bamako are waiting for security conditions in the north to improve before they begin the long journey back home. (Photo: IDMC/E. J. Rushing, October 2012)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Despite the military success against Islamist groups in northern Mali, displaced civilians are being warned not to return home too soon. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center says a false sense of security could lead to further displacement.


A recent survey by the International Organization for Migration said 93 percent of Malians, who were displaced by the conflict over a year ago, are eager to go home. They’re encouraged by advances being made by French, Malian and West African troops.

“Throughout 2012, we’d been monitoring the crisis since it broke out last January. And upwards of 230,000 people were forced to flee their homes within Mali. People displaced throughout Mali are simply homesick,” said Elizabeth Rushing, country analyst for West Africa for the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center. She said that the displaced simply want a sense of normalcy again.

“Just to give you an example of this strong desire. When I was in the country last October, the families with whom I spoke were living in a real state of limbo and many of them were reticent to set down roots because of an unshakeable hope to go home soon.”

The strong desire to return home, said Rushing, could blind them to a harsh reality. For example, the north remains very insecure.

“[In] the recent military intervention – they managed to they managed to wrest control again of many parts of the north from these armed groups, but they’ve by no means disappeared. Many have dispersed in the hills. And many have also been reported to have shaved their iconic beards and started to seek anonymity among the general population. So there’s a real threat that they’re actually regrouping and planning further attacks, such as those we’ve seen in Gao just two weeks ago, with suicide attacks within the center of town,” she said.

And then there’s the problem of finding something to eat.

“In some regions,” she said, “that these people are going home to there’s simply no food. They’re returning to an area within the wider Sahel that’s been experiencing [a] severe and chronic food crisis for the past few years. And this has only been exacerbated by the recent conflict.”

Algeria has closed its border with Mali, which has affected trade and food shipments from that country.

Rushing said, “Many predict that this could be a crisis condition in many parts of the north and center of Mali by April, which could be worsened if displaced farmers are not able to get back to their fields for planting season in May.”
She said that the international community has a window of opportunity to act. Since January, humanitarian agencies have slowly gained access to parts of northern and central Mali. However, she said that aid agencies have received only three percent of the more than $370 million they requested to help rebuild the country.

Rushing added that the Malian government has the will to help its citizens, but not the resources.

“In December, the country ratified the Kampala Convention, which is the first legally binding framework protecting the rights of internally displaced people. But at the moment, while they’re trying to re-consolidate power and security throughout the country, they just have very little capacity to implement this. So I think we could see real challenges ahead.”

She said that any “premature and uncoordinated return” of civilians “would leave thousands at risk of being displaced again.”

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More