Mali, Archbishop of Bamako: Help us protect the civilians

Mali, Archbishop of Bamako: Help us protect the civilians

Mali (West Africa). The grave institutional crisis that the war is fomenting in Mali particularly interests us insofar as we have two works there, one at Bamako and one at Touba. In order to understand what is happening, we must summarize some basic historical phases regarding Mali . For years now, the country has suffered the fight for the independence of the Tuareg against the central government of Bamako who was perhaps, little attentive to this part of the population. For about a year now, the rebellious Tuareg in the ‘National Movement for the liberation of the ‘Azawad' (Mnla), the lay Muslims have allied themselves with the Islamic fundamentalists tied to al-Qaida in Maghreb . They conquered Timbuktu on April 1, 2012, progressively going toward the center of the Country. On January 9, 2013, the interim President nominated by the military junta at the conclusion of a coup d'état by the army in March of 2012, made known that they had asked for the intervention of France and of Ecowas (the economic community of the countries of West Africa ) to eliminate the rebellious Jihadists of the Country.

“The crisis begun a year ago has, in the last few days, entered into a particularly critical phase. A new period of suffering opens for the Malian people, already harshly tried. From the international charitable organizations, beginning with Caritas, we hope for generous support to help us in the assistance of a growing number of displaced persons and refugees, in tending the wounded and those who fight on the front.” This is the plea of the Archbishop of Bamako, Msgr. Jean Zerbo, gathered from Misna. He further affirms, “The need for food and drinkable water, of first aid kits, of anti-malarial medicine, and of goods for basic needs will be increasing in the next few weeks, also because we are in the cold and damp season, which complicates humanitarian efforts even more. Then, we are at war and do not know how long it will last.” Msgr. Zerbo also hopes for “the opening of humanitarian corridors as soon as possible.” But, beyond humanitarian needs, they desire the return of African humanism and the Malian culture made of tolerance, dialogue, and serene inter-religious living. For this, the Archbishop of Bamako says we need “to begin a work of conscience education to root out the seeds planted by religious fundamentalism and by individuals who have exploited Islam.” At present, the intervention of the workers has been made impossible by the difficult conditions of security due to the military operations taking place that block the roads. In addition, the roads of the country are filled with thousands of civilians fleeing from the epicentre of the offensive - Konna, Diabali and Douentza at the center; Gao, and Timbuctù at the North – or taking refuge from future battles by crossing the borders with near-by Niger , Mauritania and Burkina Faso . The grave situation Mali is living hopes that the operations taking place will at least go ahead fully respecting International Law.

The life in our communities continues as usual. In school and in the pastoral activities at Bamako , in the dispensary, in the reception of the girls, and in the intense pastoral and health activities at Touba, which, because of its geographical position, finds itself in a more precarious situation.

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