Malians forced to live under strict religious rules since Islamist groups captured the country’s northern region nine months ago, and those who fled south, are frustrated by perceived central government inaction.
Some who fled have expressed their despair.
“I don’t understand the government’s inaction and the response by the international community. Everybody is speaking, every day there are nice speeches, but no action on the ground,” said 38-year-old Amidou Maïga, who fled from Timbuktu, a UNESCO-listed site now in the hands of the Islamists who have destroyed ancient tombs and mosques there.
“The occupiers are violating people’s basic rights. They rape, steal, amputate and destroy property. In the meantime the politicians are fighting over positions in Bamako. It’s very unfortunate. We in the north have been totally forgotten.”
The Islamists have banned secular music, football and alcohol and reportedly meted out harsh punishments, including amputations, to those accused of flouting the prohibition.
Moumouni Damango, head of a crisis committee in the central town of Mopti, said the army should be given time to prepare for an offensive against the Islamist groups in the north. “I perfectly understand the anger and the need to go to war, but they [people in the north] should know that an intervention is under way.”
Meanwhile, some civilians are considering joining a group offering combat training in the central town of Sévaré in the hope that it might push the government to act.
“As our army doesn’t want to fight, if I get the chance I wouldn’t hesitate to join a self-defence group doing training. At least they know what they want -and they want to fight,” said Oumar Maïga, a resident of Gao, one of the key northern towns under Islamist control.
“I believe that if the government was doing more to help the displaced that would calm down the anger. But the NGOs are helping the displaced more than the authorities in Bamako,” said Moussa Cissé, of the aid group Fondation Orange.
Read more of the story here at the IRIN news service:
MALI: Frustration over government inaction