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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora