(Editor’s Note: Over the past three weeks, Geoff Weiss and Andrea Papitto have written a series of blog posts about incredible towns and sites in Mali. Recently, a humanitarian crisis has gripped the country and friends of the writers have sent Geoff and Andrea missives of displacement and violence. For the next week and a half, Africa.com will publish the stories of these refugee citizens. We’ll continue with the Mali travel series later this month.)
Beyond its awe-inspiring sites, scholastic treasures and mythic cities, Mali is home to a diverse and warm-hearted people. Consequently—and given our deep ties and longstanding relationships there—we at Africa.com must temporarily turn away from our cultural examination of the country to refocus on the current humanitarian crisis occurring there.
Following the insurgency of a heavily-armed Tuareg rebel group seeking land possession in Mali’s north, over 20,000 Tuareg citizens have fled the country in fear of violence. Among those currently seeking refugee status in neighboring nations such as Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger are thousands of peaceful Tuareg citizens who have long lived safely in Mali but are now, increasingly, falling victim to retaliatory attacks.
Throughout the next week, in the hopes of spreading awareness and garnering aid, we will be bringing you firsthand accounts from displaced Tuareg citizens who have lost everything—their work, their homes, their very lives as they knew them. Coming from various walks of life, each profile will aim to provide a slightly different glimpse into the current tragedy told from the perspective of those victims currently in its throes.
1. Mohamed Ag Amano, 24, Festival in the Desert Nomad Children Organizer, from Timbuktu. (Click on the photo below for a slideshow of images of Mohamed in Mali.)
The situation in Mali right now, specifically in Bamako, has been deeply frightening to witness and, moreover, represents a violation of human rights. People in Bamako have destroyed and set fire to the homes of several Tuareg and Arab families. To escape massacre and murder, these Tuareg and Arab families have been forced to leave Bamako with great difficulty for refuge in bordering countries like Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Algeria.
For my family, the escape was arduous. With little to no resources, it took us 3 days to reach Nouakchott, (Mauritania), where we are currently stationed. Today, families like mine find themselves in a delicate situation that requires great international support. While some of us do have houses in the bordering nations to which we’ve fled, these houses are now filled to the brim with family members—and more are arriving every day.
It has been especially difficult for families whose children had to leave their schools in Bamako— like my sister and myself, for example. We were in the process of taking our exams, but the current situation has forced us to abandon all of our schoolwork.
We beseech i