A total of 1400 French ground troops are currently fighting against heavily armed Islamist fighters in Mali alongside local forces, the French defence ministry said, as the humanitarian situation worsens with more people packing their belongings and trekking to nowhere to seek social relief and peace.
Well-trained fighters of Ansar-Dine, Mujao and al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, backed by fighters from Nigeria’s Boko Haram, who are said to be purchasing their weapons in Libya, are still holding their ground in Diabali, some 400 km east of the capital city Bamako, according to reports. Some Ecowas troops arrived in Bamako yesterday, and others are expected this week in the battlefield to bring much-needed back up.
The 27 European Union countries, meeting this week in Brussels, said they will not send a combat mission to Mali, they will rather stick to helping train the Malian army to take over security of the country. A total of 450 military trainers from EU are due to fly to Bamako in the next few days.
In the meantime, the humanitarian crisis continues to worsen, with charity agencies saying that they are unable to reach the victims of the war in besieged towns and villages. Oxfam says the Fassala transit camp in Mauritania is full of thousands of people escaping conflict, and others were en route to the camp.
The main camp in Mauritania, Mbera, already hosts 54,000 people, the UK-based agency said. “Refugees are living among populations that are themselves struggling to get by in the face of poverty, food insecurity and limited basic social services,” Oxfam Mali country director Michael Quinn said.
“Impoverished host communities, still recovering from a region-wide food crisis last year, now have to share scarce food and water,”
*Photo by H. Caux/UNHCR. Malian refugees in Niger waiting for assistance.