News / Africa

Timbuktu, Gao Residents Worry about Dwindling Food, Fuel

A man gathers rice spilled from a humanitarian food convoy that arrived from the Malian capital Bamako in the northeastern city of Gao, June 12, 2012.
A man gathers rice spilled from a humanitarian food convoy that arrived from the Malian capital Bamako in the northeastern city of Gao, June 12, 2012.
Nancy Palus
While residents of northern Mali celebrate the ouster of armed Islamist groups by French and Malian troops, they are concerned about dwindling food and fuel supplies in the wake of the offensive.  Northerners and aid workers say it will be critical to ensure access to food and clean water to families in the regions, where conditions were already difficult. 
 
Residents of Timbuktu could soon run out of safe drinking water, as fuel to power the city’s water system is dwindling.
 
That is part of the message Timbuktu resident Bilal Mahamane is bringing to the authorities in the capital, Bamako.  With communications cut off after armed groups occupying the north reportedly cut mobile phone networks, Mahamane trekked for four days on foot, by boat, and by bus to Bamako to bring word of the worsening situation. 
 
He says Timbuktu’s water supply system depends on fuel, and for the nine months the north has been occupied by armed groups, traders got fuel stocks from Algeria to the north.  Now this has been cut off, he says, and there is just a small reserve of fuel left in Timbuktu.
 
Malian troops try to dissuade the crowd from looting shops in Timbuktu, Jan. 29, 2013. Hundreds of Malians looted Arab-owned shops Tuesday in Mali's fabled Timbuktu, newly freed from Islamists.Malian troops try to dissuade the crowd from looting shops in Timbuktu, Jan. 29, 2013. Hundreds of Malians looted Arab-owned shops Tuesday in Mali's fabled Timbuktu, newly freed from Islamists.
x
Malian troops try to dissuade the crowd from looting shops in Timbuktu, Jan. 29, 2013. Hundreds of Malians looted Arab-owned shops Tuesday in Mali's fabled Timbuktu, newly freed from Islamists.
Malian troops try to dissuade the crowd from looting shops in Timbuktu, Jan. 29, 2013. Hundreds of Malians looted Arab-owned shops Tuesday in Mali's fabled Timbuktu, newly freed from Islamists.
Mahamane said traders who supplied Timbuktu with fuel and staple foods were mostly Arab and fled Timbuktu when fighting between the jihadist groups and the army began.  After French and Malian troops entered Timbuktu on Tuesday some residents looted shops that were abandoned by their owners.
 
Aid workers say traders and livestock herders have also fled the northern town of Gao.  Residents say Arab and Tuareg people in the region fear reprisal attacks by people who associate them with the Islamist groups.
 
The aid agency Oxfam says the latest events only exacerbate what was already a worrying food supply situation in Gao.
 
Food shortages that affected the entire Sahel region of West Africa in 2011 and 2012 had severely disrupted the flow of staple foods to northern Mali as early as October last year.
 
Philippe Conraud, Oxfam's acting director in Mali, says the situation in Gao is worrying as some 75 percent of the city's food shops and markets are now closed.

Conraud said a handful of traders are getting food to Gao via a road from Niger but it is not enough to meet the city’s and surrounding rural communities’ food needs. Oxfam says current stocks are expected to last only a few weeks.
 
One Gao man told VOA by phone that at the moment families there are using their food reserves.
 
For the food items like rice and oil still available in Gao, aid workers say prices have shot up by about 20 percent in just two weeks.
 
x
The United Nations humanitarian coordination agency, OCHA, says the U.N. is re-establishing a presence in the central Malian city of Mopti -- which was at the dividing line between the Malian army and the jihadist groups -- after having been evacuated when fighting erupted in early January.
 
OCHA says aid agencies are evaluating needs in the north, and coordinating with authorities in Niger to bring humanitarian supplies into northern Mali from there.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs