How Can We Sit in Silence With the Growing Humanitarian Crisis?
UN reports more than 20,000 Tuareg refugees flee to Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, & Niger.
Aid, Food, Water Supplies are Low.
Where is the International Community?
February 7, 2012—Over the past week, over 20,000 Tuaregs who have long lived in safety in Mali have found themselves displaced in neighboring countries out of the fear of retaliatory attacks.
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
- Last week, a high-ranking official in Mali’s Ministry of Tourism, Mohamadoun Ag Abdou Salam, witnessed his house burned down in Kati, a suburb outside of Bamako.
- Assan Midal, a Bamako-based tour guide recounts, “I left Bamako because foreigners and people with light skin were getting attacked.”
- Former Minister of Arts and Tourism, Zakiyatou Oualett Halatine, reports how her home was looted, and she and her family forced to flee.
- “Clinic Allama,” a Tuareg-owned pharmacy and clinic were also burned and looted in Kati. This attack pushed thousands of Tuaregs out of Mali in fear.
- The elderly, women, and children are struggling to make the long journey by road out of Mali.
- “The United Nations refugee agency reports more than 20,000 people who have fled violence in Mali over the past three weeks are in urgent need of help…U.N. refugee spokesman Adrian Edwards told VOA his agency was caught unprepared by the renewed fighting and its destabilizing impact.” (Associated Press via Voice of America)
- As of February 5th, a Tuareg observer on the Algerian border at Bordj Badji Moctar identifies the urgent needs for refugee families as: “food, warm clothing, blankets, soap, mats or mattresses, latrines.”
- On February 4th, there were reports from the Mauritanian border that one-liter of water, from a faucet or well, costs 1,000-1,500 F CFA ($2-3 USD).
- Assistance in relocating or returning displaced individuals.
- According to multiple news outlets and international aid organizations, over 20,000 refugees have fled the violence.
- The International Center for the Red Cross (ICRC) indicates that refugees are living in “very difficult conditions as only a few were able to find shelter with host families in villages.”
Given Essakane Film’s relationship with the Tuareg culture and the Tuareg-run Festival in the Desert, we are in on-going contact with many of the displaced individuals. We are calling on the US Government and humanitarian organizations to mobilize aid to the innocent victims and also to send reporters to bear witness on the ground and recognize this as a humanitarian crisis. As of right now, media coverage is framing the issue around fighters moving into Mali from Libya rather than focusing on the needs of the displaced people who are not associated with the MNLA movement.
Festival in the Desert Director, Mr. Mohamed Ag Mohamed Ali Ansar who has taken refuge in Burkina Faso is available for interviews and to give an eye-witness report. Essakane Film is also interested in partnering with media to report on this event from Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
For more information contact:
- Abou Ansar: +1.831.521.3061, email@example.com
- Andrea Papitto: +1.646.520.9946, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Kiley Kraskouskas: +1.571.421.4901, email@example.com
Ouagadougou, BURKINA FASO
- Mr. Mohamed Ag Mohamed Ali Ansar a.k.a Manny, Director, Festival in the Desert: +226-60-35 40-80
- Mr. Mohamedoun Ag Abdou Salam, Mali Ministry of Tourism: +226-73-29-61-97
- Mr. Intagrist Ag Mohamed Mitta: +222-333-01473
HUMANITARIAN CRISIS DOCUMENTATION
1) FEB 7: Voice of America, “UN: 20,000 Who Fled Violence in Mali Need Help”
“The United Nations refugee agency reports more than 20,000 people who have fled violence in Mali over the past three weeks are in urgent need of help. The UNHCR says it has sent emergency teams to countries surrounding Mali to help the thousands of refugees who have been forced to flee their homes.
The exodus began in mid-January. That is when fighting between rebel Tuareg groups and government forces in the Azawad region of northern Mali began. Most of the estimated 20,000 people who have fled the violence are in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.”
“U.N. refugee spokesman Adrian Edwards told VOA his agency was caught unprepared by the renewed fighting and its destabilizing impact. “
2) FEB 2: (Statement) U.S. State Department
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
February 2, 2012
The United States is deeply concerned by continuing incidents of violence in northern Mali. We condemn the attacks by armed groups against a number of northern towns. These actions, taken by groups who purport to defend the rights of Malians, instead threaten the well-being of all Malian citizens. We call for a resumption of dialogue toward a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict.
We further condemn the apparent retaliatory attacks against members of ethnic groups associated with the situation in the north. We welcome President Toure’s appeal to the Malian spirit of diversity and democracy and urge the Malian people to heed his call for unity. We call on the Malian government to continue efforts to ensure the safety and security of all Malian citizens and on the Malian people to remain committed to tolerance and peace.
3) FEB 3: (Press Release) International Red Cross Report on Humanitarian Crisis, “Mali / Niger: people flee the fighting to Niger”
“Geneva / Niamey (ICRC) - Nearly 10 000 Mali and Niger have fled the fighting that took place in recent days between the Malian army and armed groups in areas of Menaka and Anderamboucane in northern Mali.”
“These people have sought refuge in Niger in the north of the Tillabery region, near the border. Their living conditions are extremely precarious.”
Mwehu Germain, ICRC Niamey, tel. : +227 97 45 43 82
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel. : +41 22 730 20 11 or 79536 41 92 50
4) FEB 3: (News Report) France 24, “Tuareg Civilians Attacked in Bamako”
“President Amadou Toumani Touré has urged Malians not to “confuse” Tuareg civilians with the Tuareg rebels that the army is fighting in the country’s north. Some residents of the capital are paying dearly for such “confusion.”
On Thursday, protesters then hit the streets of the capital and in the cities of Kati and Ségou. In Kati, witnesses report that Tuareg homes were also attacked.
Assan Midal is a Tuareg who works as a tour guide in Bamako. He left the capital Thursday night and was on his way to Ouagadougou, the capital of neighbouring Burkina Faso, when we spoke to him Friday.
"I left Bamako because foreigners and people with light skin were getting attacked."
I’m with a convoy of about one hundred cars going to Ouagadougou. We left Bamako during the night so as not to run into any angry protesters blocking the road. In this convoy, there are even Tuareg officers from the regular army. They’re fleeing too.
I saw with my own eyes people being attacked, stores getting looted, cars being set on fire. People with light skin (Arabs and Tuaregs) were being targeted. [Worried they might be attacked, several dozen Mauritanians living in Mali sought refuge at the Mauritanian Embassy in Bamako on Thursday].
Enraged protesters can’t tell regular Tuaregs and rebel Tuaregs apart, and they yell “Death to Tuaregs” at everyone. Tuaregs living in Bamako are accused of being the brains behind the rebellion in the north, but that’s not true.
The rebellion has caused many casualties in the army’s ranks, so perhaps the protesters want to “balance the equation” by attacking Tuareg civilians. They even attacked military families just because they were Tuareg.”
5) FEB 3: (Press Release) Médecins du Monde, “Humanitarian Organization Medecins du Monde is forced to temporarily suspend its activities in health and nutrition northern Mali”
“While a food crisis looming in the Sahel, safe degradation in Mali could deprive people of needed assistance.”
“Teams of Médecins du Monde, working in Mali in the regions of Kidal (Northeastern), Gao (East), Mopti (center) and Bamako (Central West), find the displacement of some northern cities of the country where violent confrontations took place. MdM is estimated that several thousands of these population movements to neighboring countries including Mauritania and Algeria.
"Part of the population fled the cities to take refuge in the bush without water, without provisions and without care," explains an official of the mission of MdM-Belgium in Mali, "for those who are not already in Algeria and Mauritania, it is called "wandering" from well to well, "he continues.
"Following the conflict in the city of Adiel-Hoc, we've seen a massive influx of people into the area and Inamzil Toulaft in the immediate vicinity of Adiel-Hoc: we have dozens of displaced families with no food assistance and health, "said one doctor MdM in the region of Kidal. "After the fighting, the city of Adiel-Hoc was the scene of looting shops, businesses, and health centers were looted by individuals."
6) FEB 4: (Video) Looting of medical clinic owned by Dr. Elmedi AG Hamahady
One minute and 27 seconds of looting of the medical clinic owned by Dr. Elmedi Ag Hamahady, a Tuareg citizen.
7) FEB 4: (Article) Chicago Tribune, “Mali says 20 rebels killed, thousands flee”
“About 3,500 people had crossed westwards into Mauritania, said a Mauritanian official, who asked not to be named.
The International Committee for the Red Cross said on Friday that nearly 10,000 people had fled into Niger after fighting between the army and armed groups in the area around Menaka and Anderamboucane, in the northeast of Mali.
One refugee in Niger, Aminatou Sango, said everyone tried to flee. "I left my very old mother and one of my daughters as they could not walk. I am here alone."
The rebels say they are fighting to secure the independence of Azawad - Mali's three northern regions, Kidal, Timbuktu and Gau. The government accuses the rebels of atrocities and collaborating with al Qaeda, a charge the MNLA rejects.
The ICRC said that some refugees were being looked after by local families while others had set up makeshift camps.”
8) FEB 4 (Article) Trust.org/AlertNet, “Thousands flee Mali for Niger after clashes in north – ICRC”
“Most of the refugees have settled across the border in the near-desert region of Tillabery, one of the areas worst affected by food shortages in Niger which faces a looming hunger crisis.”
“The ICRC said the refugees were living in very difficult conditions as only a few were able to find shelter with host families in villages.”
9) FEB 5: (Article) ABC News/Associated Press Report, “Aid Groups: 15,000 Flee Mali Amid Tuareg Rebellion”
“More than 15,000 people including Malian military personnel have fled into neighboring countries since members of the nomadic Tuareg ethnic group launched a new rebellion against the Malian government last month, aid officials say.”
"Some of these people have been taken in by villagers, but the local capacity was very quickly overwhelmed," said Juerg Eglin, head of ICRC delegation for Niger and Mali.”
“Another 5,000 people have fled to Mauritania, according to an official who works at an international humanitarian organization based in Mauritania's capital. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to provide figures to the media.”
10) FEB 5: (Video) Al Jazeera Video Report on Humanitarian Crisis in Mali
“Aid groups say that more than fifteen thousand people have fled Mali as fighting escalates in the West African country.”
11) FEB 5: (Article) New York Times, “Qaddafi’s Weapons, Taken by Old Allies, Reinvigorate an Insurgent Army in Mali”
“About a half-dozen towns in the north have been attacked, including Niafounké. Both government and rebel forces have suffered casualties, and nearly 10,000 civilians have fled the fighting, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The situation appears to have worsened for the Mali government over the past few days. The rebels have retaken the town of Ménaka, a military spokesman, Idrissa Traoré, acknowledged Friday, adding that a number of soldiers and civilians — he refused to say how many — had been killed by the rebels in the town of Aguelhok. In Bamako, the capital, families of soldiers have demonstrated against what they say is the government’s poor handling of the rebel offensive, blocking roads and burning tires. The defense minister has been replaced, and reprisals have been reported against Tuareg citizens living in the south.
Officials in Bamako make no secret of their shock at what one Western diplomat called the “robustness” of the rebel incursion. “
12) FEB 6: (Report) Toumast Press, “Sa maison pillée, l'ex-Ministre Zakiyatou Ouallett Halatine adresse une lettre ouverte au Président Malien”
13) FEB 6: (Article) Al Jazeera, “Tuareg rebels attack Mali town of Kidal”
“Some Tuareg leaders say many of their community have also fled the southern city of Bamako, fearing reprisals after violent demonstrations this week.”
“About 3,500 people had crossed west into Mauritania, said a Mauritanian official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday that nearly 10,000 people had fled into Niger after fighting between the army and armed groups in the area around the northeastern cities of Menaka and Anderamboucane. Other aid officials say more than 5,000 others have fled to Mauritania.”