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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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