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    Source: IFRC
    Country: Mali, World

    Publié: 4 février 2013

    1er février, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire – Lors d’une réunion avec le président de la Côte d’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara, Tadateru Konoé, président de la Fédération internationale des Sociétés de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge (FICR), a appelé toutes les parties engagées au Mali, ainsi que dans n’importe quelle situation de violence, à respecter non seulement le droit international humanitaire, mais également les emblèmes protecteurs de la croix rouge et du croissant rouge, de façon à en prévenir tout usage abusif.

    «Il est essentiel que nos Sociétés nationales, au Mali comme ailleurs, se conforment pleinement à nos principes humanitaires de neutralité et d’impartialité, qui garantissent notre accès à toutes les populations dans le besoin», a déclaré le président Konoé. «Il est non moins crucial que nos emblèmes protecteurs soient reconnus et respectés par toutes les parties en toute circonstance, particulièrement dans les situations de violence.»

    Cette déclaration a été prononcée lors de la dernière étape d’une mission en Afrique qui a conduit M. Konoé successivement au Kenya, au Burundi, en République du Congo et en Côte d’Ivoire. A l’occasion de ses entretiens avec les différents chefs d’Etats, le président de la FICR a exhorté les gouvernements africains à nouer d’étroits partenariats avec leurs Sociétés nationales de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge et à leur permettre ainsi de remplir au mieux leur rôle d’auxiliaires indépendants des pouvoirs publics.

    «Les Sociétés nationales que j’ai visitées sont toutes engagées dans un processus de réorientation de leur développement», a commenté M. Konoé. «Leurs dirigeants s’emploient à concrétiser leur engagement renouvelé à optimiser leurs capacités, à identifier et à combler leurs lacunes, et à renforcer les partenariats nationaux et internationaux. Dans cette optique, ils commencent par s’interroger sur ce qu’ils peuvent faire par eux-mêmes, plutôt que sur ce que les autres peuvent faire pour eux. En cela, ils se montrent fidèles à l’esprit du Plan d’action d’Addis Abeba adopté en octobre dernier dans le cadre de la Conférence panafricaine de la FICR, lequel reflète la volonté d’investir davantage en Afrique. Je me félicite de ce nouvel état d’esprit qui aspire à mettre en valeur la créativité et les atouts des Sociétés nationales africaines, à faire plus, à le faire mieux et à aller plus loin.»

    Pour plus d’informations ou pour organiser des interviews, s’adresser à :

    A Addis Abeba:

    • Katherine Mueller, responsable de la communication pour la FICR en Afrique

    • Mobile: +251 930 033 413; courriel: katherine.mueller@ifrc.org

    A Dakar:

    • Moustapha Diallo, chargé de communication de la FICR pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest

    • Mobile: +221 774 501 004; courriel: moustapha.diallo@ifrc.org

    A Genève

    • Jessica Sallabank, responsable de la communication avec les médias à la FICR

    • Mobile: +41 799 481 148; courriel: jessica.sallabank@ifrc.org


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    Source: UN Security Council, UN Department of Public Information
    Country: Burundi, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Serbia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen, South Sudan (Republic of)

    The main thematic focus for the Republic of Korea’s month-long Presidency of the Security Council would be civilian protection, Ambassador Kim Sook said today, briefing reporters at Headquarters on the 15-nation body’s February work programme, which also featured meetings on United Nations peacekeeping operations in South Sudan and Kosovo.

    Pledging full cooperation among Council members and the Organization’s wider membership to ensure the Council worked effectively and efficiently, Mr. Kim said the open debate on protection of civilians in armed conflict, slated for 12 February, would provide an opportunity for Member States to enhance awareness about protection measures, as well as to identify opportunities and challenges on the horizon.

    With a presidential statement as the expected outcome of the meeting, he said the Republic of Korea would propose possible sub-themes for the discussion: strengthening accountability to increase adherence to international humanitarian and human rights law; upgrading protection mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations; and bolstering protection specifically for women, children and medical workers in the field. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay were expected to provide briefings, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea would preside over the meeting.

    Mr. Kim said that the Council’s second thematic meeting, scheduled for 13 February, would focus on cooperation with the European Union and feature a briefing by High Representative Catherine Ashton. Turning to the remainder of the programme of work, he said the Council planned meetings or consultations to consider mandate renewals for the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB) (13 February), the Panel of Experts for the Committee on Sudan Sanctions (7 and 21 February), and the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) (22 February).

    The Council would be briefed in open session tomorrow, 5 February, on the situation in Guinea-Bissau, he said, adding that it would hold consultations regarding other country-specific matters during the month, including on the work of: the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) (5 February); the situation in Mali, including the composition and deployment readiness of African-led troops in that country’s north; and the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) (7 February).

    He went on to say that, on 7 February, the Council would be briefed in open session by the representatives of the United Kingdom and Morocco, co-leaders of the recent mission to Yemen. The quarterly debate on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) would be held in the afternoon of 22 February, and the monthly briefing on the Middle East was set for 26 February.

    Mr. Kim also flagged a wrap-up meeting his delegation would hold on the last day of the month to discuss the Council’s work and enhance transparency and cooperation with the wider United Nations membership. He said that other “pressing issues”, such as non-proliferation and the situation in Syria, were included in the “footnotes” of the Council’s work plan, and could be possibly discussed.

    Answering several questions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in his national capacity, he said that in recent weeks there had been much “busy activity” at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and that “everybody is watching”. The non-proliferation issue was in the “footnotes” and he assumed the Council would convene “very swiftly”, if or when the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea carried out a nuclear test. During consultations on the matter over the past month, he had seen that all Council members were “very unified and resolute”, and expected their stance to remain the same when the Council moved to condemn “such provocation.”

    “I would like to see the Security Council take strong measures,” he continued, responding to another question on the matter. He said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had violated Council resolutions “time and again”, even conducting two missile tests in 2012. Now that country was threatening to “fire on” those that joined in implementing recent Council sanctions measures. That was obviously a threat to regional peace and security, as well as a direct attempt to undermine the Council’s authority. With so many serious issues at stake, he hoped for swift and resolute action from the Council, he reiterated.

    On Syria, he told another correspondent that it was “no secret” that there was disagreement among Council members on the issue. During a recent closed-door briefing, Joint United Nations-Arab League Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had urged the Council to take a “strong lead” and ensure that all elements of the Geneva Communiqué on Syria were implemented. In any case, the Council would not lose sight of the situation on the ground and he expected that it could consult on the issue during the month.

    As for whether delegations would discuss the Syrian crisis during the thematic debate on civilian protection, he expected that Member States could raise matters regarding civilian casualties and the refugee situation, with such displaced persons now facing harsh winter conditions. He also said that “heinous” terrorist acts were being perpetrated in the country that violated international humanitarian law.

    On other matters, he confirmed one correspondent’s assertion that a letter had been sent to the Security Council from Syria’s Permanent Representative, regarding the alleged Israeli airstrike in that country. The letter had been received, but no further action had been taken.

    For information media • not an official record


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    Source: International Medical Corps
    Country: Mali
    preview


    Douentza est une commune située dans le cercle de Mopti et compte 25 000 habitants. Le nombre estimé de personnes déplacées - ayant quitté la commune - est de 10 000 personnes.
    Au jour de l’évaluation, les autorités locales commençaient à revenir sur Douentza (retour du maire au 30 janvier 2013).

    L’équipe d’International Medical Corps a effectué une évaluation multisectorielle dans la ville de Douentza, le 31 janvier 2013 et a suivi la méthodologie proposée par OCHA: deux groupes d’informateurs clés ont été rencontrés (1 groupe d’hommes et 1 groupe de femmes) et 26 ménages ont été visités. Au cours de l’enquête ménage, un dépistage des enfants de moins de 5 ans a aussi été effectué et 89 enfants ont été testés. Une visite du centre de santé de référence (CSREF) a été effectuée et des informations échangées avec l’équipe de Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).


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    Source: CARE
    Country: Mali
    preview


    INTRODUCTION

    Les 24, 25 et 26 janvier 2013, une évaluation rapide multisectorielle a été conduite dans les régions de Ségou et Mopti afin de déterminer les besoins des populations nouvellement déplacées suite aux affrontements de Konna et Diabaly1. Les cercles concernés sont ceux de Ségou (ville de Ségou, Sébougou, Dioro et Markala), Mopti, Bandiagara et Djénné.

    Les entretiens ont été menés avec divers interlocuteurs : membres des comités de crise, les Directions Régionales du Développement Social et de l’Economie Solidaire (DRDSES), des élus communaux, des chefs de quartier, des directeurs et enseignants d’école, des équipes sanitaires de CSREF et de CSCOM, des familles hôtes et des déplacés.

    Ce rapport est une synthèse des résultats préliminaires qualitatifs obtenus avant que soient produits des analyses et un rapport plus détaillé.

    Au total, après compilation des informations fournies par les informateurs clé, le nombre de déplacés à la fin de l’évaluation était de 1054, soit :

    • 752 dans la région de Ségou dont 120 dans la commune rurale de Sébougou, 400 dans la commune urbaine de Ségou, 152 dans la commune de Markala et 80 dans celle de Dioro ;

    • 302 déplacés dans la région de Mopti ;

    Les déplacés proviennent principalement de Bambara Maoudé, Douentza, Konna et Diabaly.


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    Source: World Bank
    Country: Niger
    preview


    ABSTRACT

    Niger, owing to its climatic, institutional, livelihood, economic, and environmental context, is one of the most vulnerable countries of the world. Poverty is pervasive in Niger and it ranks low on almost all the human development indicators. Agriculture is the most important sector of Niger's economy and accounts for over 40 percent of national gross domestic product (GDP) and is the principle source of livelihood for over 80 percent of the country's population. The performance of the agricultural sector, however, due to its high exposure to risks, is very volatile. Niger has experienced multiple shocks, largely induced by agricultural risks over the past 30 years, which impose high welfare cost in terms of food availability, food affordability, and malnutrition. It also adversely affects household incomes, performance of the agricultural sector, the government's fiscal balance, and the growth rate of Niger's economy. Niger is a case of living perpetually with risk, thus more emphasis on long-term structural solutions, rather than short-term quick fixes, is required to improve the resilience of the agricultural sector. Designing and implementing a comprehensive agricultural risk management strategy will require sustained and substantial financial investments, shifting the focus from short-term crisis response to long-term risk management, streamlining disparate donor investments and isolated interventions toward the core problem, supporting decentralized community, and farm-level decision making, integrating agricultural risk management into the existing development frameworks, prioritizing agricultural risks into government and donor strategies, and focusing on implementation.


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/04/2013 17:30 GMT

    Par Serge DANIEL

    GAO (Mali), 04 fév 2013 (AFP) - L'armée française et des éléments de l'armée tchadienne poursuivaient lundi dans l'extrême nord-est du Mali leur traque des islamistes armés qui s'y sont repliés après leur fuite des grandes villes de Gao, Tombouctou et Kidal, et où ils détiennent probablement sept otages français.

    A Paris, le président François Hollande et le vice-président américain Joe Biden se sont mis d'accord lundi pour que la force africaine en cours de déploiement au Mali soit "aussi rapidement que possible placée sous l'autorité de l'ONU", dans le cadre d'une "opération de maintien de la paix". M. Biden a félicité la France pour son "action décisive" dans ce pays.

    Tout en poursuivant sa traque des chefs et combattants des groupes islamistes armés dans le massif des Ifoghas, au nord de Kidal (1.500 km de Bamako), tout près de la frontière algérienne, la France souhaite "être rapidement relayés par les forces africaines", a redit Laurent Fabius, chef de la diplomatie française.

    Ces forces doivent à terme comprendre quelque 6.000 soldats d'Afrique de l'Ouest et du Tchad, dont de premiers éléments se trouvent à Kidal, aux côtés de l'armée française.

    Cette position avait déjà été rappelée samedi lors de sa visite au Mali par le président Hollande, qui a cependant souligné que l'armée française ne quitterait pas le territoire malien tant que les armées africaines n'y seraient pas installées.

    "La France restera avec vous le temps qu'il faudra, c'est-à-dire le temps que les Africains eux-mêmes prendront (...) pour nous remplacer, mais jusque-là, nous serons à vos côtés jusqu'au bout, jusqu'au Nord Mali", avait déclaré le chef de l'Etat.

    Le ministre malien des Affaires étrangères Tiéman Coulibaly a lui aussi plaidé lundi pour que l'opération militaire aille "jusqu'au bout" afin de "détruire les réseaux terroristes", dans un entretien avec l'AFP, où il a également rendu un hommage appuyé au Tchad.

    A propos des frappes aériennes menées pendant le week-end sur les Ifoghas, M. Fabius a estimé que les islamistes qui y sont réfugiés "ne peuvent rester là-bas durablement que s'ils ont des moyens de ravitaillement. Donc l'armée, de manière très efficace, est en train de saper cela".

    L'Algérie n'avait pas officiellement réagi aux bombardements français à ses portes, mais Mohamed Baba Ali, député de la région de Tamanrasset, ville du sud de l'Algérie proche du Mali, a affirmé que l'armée algérienne avait renforcé sa présence à la frontière, fermée depuis le 14 janvier, afin "d'éviter l'infiltration de groupes terroristes".

    C'est dans les Ifoghas, immense zone de montagnes et de grottes, berceau des Touareg, que des chefs et des combattants islamistes se sont réfugiés après leur fuite des grandes villes du nord du Mali, qu'ils y ont aussi caché de l'armement, selon des experts et des sources sécuritaires régionales.

    Reprise de l'aide française au développement

    C'est aussi là que se trouveraient les sept otages français enlevés au Niger et au Mali en 2011 et 2012 par Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (Aqmi) et un autre groupe islamiste armé, le Mouvement pour l'unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (Mujao).

    Selon des sources de sécurité et un député malien issu de la communauté touareg, une délégation des Touareg des Ifoghas a récemment rencontré les ravisseurs des otages français, assurant que certains se sont montrés dans "de bonnes dispositions".

    Parmi les dirigeants islamistes supposés réfugiés dans les Ifoghas, on cite l'Algérien Abou Zeïd, un des émirs les plus radicaux d'Aqmi, et Iyad Ag Ghaly, chef d'Ansar Dine (Défenseurs de l'islam), ex-rebelle touareg malien des années 1990, originaire de Kidal, qui connaît parfaitement la région.

    Un autre dirigeant, Mohamed Moussa Ag Mouhamed, présenté comme le numéro trois d'Ansar Dine et la "tête pensante" de ce mouvement à Tombouctou où il a ordonné de nombreuses exactions, a été arrêté dimanche au nord de Kidal, selon des sources de sécurité de la région.

    Ces mêmes sources ont affirmé qu'un membre du Mujao avait également été arrêté. Elles n'ont cependant pas précisé qui avait procédé à ces arrestations, mais les regards se tournent vers le Mouvement national pour la libération de l'Azawad (MNLA).

    Kidal était un bastion d'Ansar Dine, mais est passée sous le contrôle du Mouvement islamique de l'Azawad (MIA, dissidence d'Ansar Dine s'affirmant "modérée") et du MNLA, juste avant l'arrivée de soldats français dans la nuit du 29 au 30 janvier.

    Parallèlement à l'opération militaire, la France insiste sur la nécessité d'un rétablissement d'institutions démocratiques issues d'élections "transparentes" et la mise en place d'une politique de développement, en particulier pour les régions du Nord, isolées et quasi-désertiques.

    Paris a dans cette perspective annoncé la reprise progressive de l'aide publique au développement, gelée depuis le coup d'Etat militaire du 22 mars 2012 qui avait précipité la chute du Nord aux mains des islamistes armés.

    Le Groupe de soutien au Mali, qui rassemble les grandes organisations internationales comme l'ONU, et se réunit mardi à Bruxelles pour s'entendre sur les moyens d'assurer le retour à la stabilité après les opérations militaires, étudiera aussi la reprise de l'aide publique au Mali.

    Signe d'un début de retour à la normale, des écoles ont rouvert à Gao, la plus grande ville du Nord, reprise le 26 janvier par les soldats français et maliens. Et à Genève, le Comité international de la Croix Rouge a fait état d'un "début de retour" de déplacés dans le centre du Mali.

    bur-stb/thm/sd

    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Western Sahara

    Situation préoccupante le long des deux rives de la mer Rouge

    La situation relative au Criquet pèlerin demeure préoccupante dans les zones de reproduction hivernale le long des deux rives de la mer Rouge. Davantage de groupes et bandes larvaires se sont formés au cours des dernières semaines sur la côte dans le sud-est de l’Égypte et le nord-ouest du Soudan ainsi que sur les côtes centrales et septentrionales de l’Arabie saoudite. Quelques groupes larvaires et de petites bandes se sont également formés le long des deux côtés de la frontière entre le Soudan et l’Érythrée. Des opérations de lutte terrestre sont en cours dans tous ces pays, complétées par des opérations aériennes au Soudan et en Arabie saoudite. Une deuxième génération de reproduction aura lieu probablement dans les prochains mois, ce qui entraînera une nouvelle augmentation des effectifs acridiens. Tous les efforts sont requis pour maîtriser ces infestations afin de limiter la possible migration vers les vastes zones de reproduction printanière dans l’intérieur de l’Arabie saoudite vers mars.

    Dans la Région occidentale, la situation acridienne s’est calmée dans le Sahel, où seules de petites infestations résiduelles sont présentes dans des parties du nord du Niger et peut-être du nord du Mali. Plusieurs groupes d’ailés et de petits essaims se sont formés en janvier dans la partie méridionale du Sahara occidental et se sont déplacés dans les zones adjacentes du nord-ouest de la Mauritanie. Des opérations de lutte ont été réalisées en Mauritanie et au Maroc. On s’attend à ce que des effectifs acridiens faibles à modérés persistent dans ces deux pays. Ailleurs, quelques petits groupes d’ailés ont été traités dans les zones irriguées, près d’Adrar, dans le Sahara central, en Algérie et des ailés épars étaient présents le long du versant méridional des monts Atlas, au Maroc.


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    Source: Voice of America
    Country: Kenya, Somalia

    Joe DeCapua

    Last updated on: February 04, 2013 7:55 AM

    There’s been a big improvement in Somalia’s humanitarian situation. U.N. officials say it’s due to innovative approaches to aid delivery, favorable rains and success against militants.

    Listen to De Capua report on Somalia

    There are about one million fewer Somalis listed as being “in crisis.” That’s half of what it was six months ago.

    “The situation in Somalia [has] radically changed in a sustainable manner. We are at risk now if we don’t support the people to come out from this very, very uncertain situation to go back in a situation like the one in 2011,” said Luca Alinovi, who’s in charge of U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) operations in Somalia.

    In 2011, famine was declared in several parts of Somalia. Many people died and many others walked for weeks to reach areas with food and water. This includes the huge Dadaab refugee camp complex in Kenya.

    “During the famine and the season after, we’ve been substantially intervening with cash-based intervention. We’ve been supporting the people to stay where they were. Although obviously there was a substantial number of displaced moving out, but the number was much less than what could have been. FAO was particularly strong in supporting [the] cash for work program, which helped the people to rebuild the infrastructure that they need – to continue to produce even during [a] difficult season – to continue to breed animals, He said.

    Previous interventions, he said, were based more on simply providing commodity aid – food, shelter and basic essentials.

    At a time when climate change has made annual rainfall either unpredictable or scarce, 2012 was a good year.

    “It was about the average. So it went quite well in terms of rain. We have also two major rivers, which cross Somalia for which there is quite a high capacity of having irrigated area[s]. A lot of investment in the past and today and hopefully tomorrow will be in strengthening these irrigated area[s] to increase the production in those area[s], which are able to cover basically above 50 percent of the needs of the country,” he said.

    Another major factor affecting the humanitarian situation has been the success against al Shabab militants. Forces from the AU, known as AMISOM, along with those from the Somali government and Kenya, have driven the group from many areas. However, Alinovi said that insecurity is still a problem.

    “It’s still quite unstable and the military operation is still ongoing very much, particularly in the agricultural area, in the rural area, which obviously creates a climate of uncertainty. “However, we also have to say that the increased amount of area which has been liberated by AMISOM, has been allowing increased access to the area. Having said that -- most of the rural area remains under the control of al Shabab,” he said.

    The FAO official said that the recent success is just one step toward reestablishing Somalia as a stable nation. He says there are several hundred more steps to go. Alinovi added that more programs are needed to build the resilience of the Somali people against future shocks, whether from drought or conflict.

    The FAO, the World Food Program and UNICEF are working together to do just that. The humanitarian agencies warn that the situation remains critical for more than one million Somalis. They are still not able to meet their basic needs on their own.


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    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Cameroon, Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, World, Zambia
    preview


    New policies needed to promote agroforestry

    Neglected sector is crucial to livelihoods and food security of millions

    5 February, 2013, Rome - Millions of people could escape poverty, hunger and environmental degradation if countries put more effort into promoting agroforestry, an integrated approach combining trees with crop or livestock production, FAO said today.

    The agroforestry sector is a significant source both of local commodities such as fuelwood, timber, fruit and fodder for livestock as well as global ones such as coconut, coffee, tea, rubber and gum. Almost half the world's agricultural land has at least 10 percent tree cover, making agroforestry critical to the livelihoods of millions.

    Advancing agroforestry

    In a new guide published today and aimed at decision-makers, key policy advisors, NGOs and governmental institutions, FAO shows how agroforestry can be integrated into national strategies and how policies can be adjusted to specific conditions. The policy guide provides examples of best practices and success stories, as well as lessons learned from challenges and failures.

    "In many countries the potential of agroforestry to enrich farmers, communities and industry has not been fully exploited," said Eduardo Mansur, Director of FAO's Forest Assessment, Management and Conservation Division. "Despite the numerous benefits of agroforestry, the sector is largely hampered by adverse policies, legal constraints and lack of coordination between the sectors to which it contributes, namely, agriculture, forestry, rural development, environment and trade."

    New opportunities provided by agroforestry are emerging, for example, within the miombo woodlands of central, eastern and southern Africa, which cover three million square kilometers over 11 countries and contribute significantly to the livelihoods of some 100 million low-income people. Among these new opportunities is the potential to curb greenhouse gas emissions by slowing forest conversion to farmland and to sequester carbon in trees on farms, as a result of the financial incentives offered by carbon trade and the REDD+ initiative. Similarly, the expansion of natural regeneration of over five million hectares of dry degraded land in Niger will contribute to mitigating climate change and increase rural income.

    Policy action

    The guide provides ten major tracks for policy action, including: raising awareness of agroforestry systems to farmers and the global community; reforming unfavourable regulations in forestry, agricultural and rural codes; and clarifying land-use policy regulations.

    The latter does not necessarily mean formal land titling. Research has found that some customary forms of tenure provide the security to plant trees, while reducing the formalities and costs of administration.

    Providing environmental services

    Farmers introducing trees on farms should be rewarded for the ecosystem services they provide to society through financial or other incentives in the form of grants, tax exemptions, cost sharing programmes, microcredits or delivery in kind, especially extension services and infrastructure development, according to the guide.

    Long-term credit is also crucial, as benefits to farmers planting trees reach them only after some years. The value of carbon sequestered and other environmental services provided by the trees could even be applied to paying the interest.

    In Costa Rica, a national forestry financing fund assigned in 1996 by law to subsidize forestry activities was extended in 2001 and 2005 to agroforestry systems combining crops, trees and cattle. Over the last eight years, more than 10,000 contracts have been signed for agroforestry, which resulted in planting of more than 3.5 million trees on farms.

    The guide was developed by FAO in cooperation with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Centre (CATIE) and the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD).

    Tools for journalists & editors

    Photo requests: (+39) 06 570 53082 / 53393 or Photo-Library@fao.org Photos also available via the FAOnews Flickr account Video material/b-roll: (+39) 06 570 55980 or Radio-and-TV@fao.org Audio clips: (+39) 06 570 53223RSS feed of FAO news releases FAO's online newsroom Follow FAO on TwitterAdditional tools


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/05/2013 10:57 GMT

    by Claire ROSEMBERG

    BRUSSELS, Feb 05, 2013 (AFP) - Mali urged the international community to stand by its side to drive out Islamist extremists from its territory as the United Nations, African Union and other global players met in Brussels on Tuesday.

    "The threat concerns all civilised countries," Mali's Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly said as he arrived for talks to anchor long-term peace and stability once the military offensive against Islamist rebel forces is over.

    "The entire world must gather around us to chase the jihadists from our soil," he said as some 45 delegations from African and European nations, along with donor and aid groups, stepped into the meeting of the "Mali support and follow-up group."

    "We need to prepare the future," said a senior EU official ahead of the talks. "When a state falls apart it takes time to put it together again, like Humpty Dumpty.

    At the top of the immediate political agenda will be the dispatch of human rights observers, amid fears of rights abuse and revenge killings, as well as financing the deployment of some 8,000 African troops.

    US Vice President Joe Biden this week joined President Francois Hollande in calling for a UN mission to eventually take over the baton in Mali from the African-led force once French forces move out.

    "We are favourable to this," said Ivorian African Integration Minister Ali Coulibaly, whose country chairs the west African regional body ECOWAS.

    Diplomats say there is a clear need for a UN force to police the country as the ramshackle Malian army remains incapable of reconquering the remote corners of the vast arid nation, while the French do no want to stay for the long haul.

    After a three-week campaign by French-led forces drove the extremists from strongholds including the cities of Timbuktu and Gao, French fighter jets have pounded Islamist supply bases in Mali's mountainous northeast, near the Algerian border.

    "It is about destroying their rear bases, their depots," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday.

    "They have taken refuge in the north and the northeast but they can only stay there long-term if they have ways to replenish their supplies."

    The radical Islamists who controlled northern Mali for 10 months, taking advantage of a coup in Bamako in March, have fled into the Adrar des Ifoghas massif in the Kidal region, a craggy mountain landscape honeycombed with caves.

    The Brussels talks will consider further support and training for the African force for Mali (AFISMA), as the 27-nation EU firms up a plan to send a 450-strong mission to train the poor nation's ramshackle army.

    So far, 16 EU nations, plus Norway, have agreed to contribute troops to the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM), due to launch in Bamako on February 12, with training to start in April. But it still lacks sufficient numbers and medical back-up to kick off.

    The talks too will look at assisting the return to civilian rule over the entire territory of Mali by helping to organise elections that President Dioncounda Traore has vowed to hold by July 31.

    "This is an ambitious timetable," said the senior EU official.

    To ensure such pledges are held, the EU will dangle an offer to unlock 250 million euros (almost $340 million) of aid, frozen after the March coup in what was once one of west Africa's most stable democracies.

    "The resumption of aid will be progressive," said French Development Minister Pascal Canfin, who will attend the discussions.

    "Funds for humanitarian aid and development will depend on the progress of the road-map," he said, referring to a post-war plan agreed by the Malian parliament last week to hold elections and kick off talks with some rebel groups.

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    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Inter Press Service
    Country: Mali

    By Emmanuel Haddad

    NIAMEY, Feb 5 2013 (IPS) - Communities in northern Mali are in need of humanitarian intervention following the recent military intervention in Gao and Timbuktu, leading non-governmental organisations to call for deliveries of food aid, fuel and even currency notes.

    “Since last year, Malians have had to face a triple crisis: firstly, drought and poor harvests; then a political crisis and finally open conflict when radical Islamist groups took control of the north,” said Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner responsible for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response during her visit to the capital Bamako, Jan. 22.

    The European Commission has announced that it will release emergency aid worth 20 million euros for the West African country.

    The funds are highly needed, as residents of Gao and Timbuktu, the two largest cities of the north, are struggling to keep food on the table as supplies dry up.

    “As French and Malian forces advanced on the Islamist militia…many of the key suppliers of food and fuel fled the area, especially in Gao,” international NGO Oxfam International said on Monday.

    “There have been no food supplies in Gao for the past two weeks,” according to Lucile Grosjean, the spokesperson for the international humanitarian organisation Action Against Hunger (ACF).

    Since April 2012, northern Mali has been taunted by a coalition of armed groups composed of Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), and Ansar Dine, an Islamist group among Mali’s Tuareg population that live across the country’s southeast.

    “Because of the occupation by the Jihadist groups, farmers have not had the support they normally receive from the Ministry of Agriculture to improve rice production on plantations on the banks of the Niger River,” Grosjean expained. “So the harvest has been much lower than in previous years.”

    In addition, “many of the livestock markets are closed as movement between Algeria and Niger is difficult and the prices are not good.”

    A spree of animal thefts has locals fearing for their livestock, according to Grosjean, while looting adds to the insecurity that still characterises the overall situation in Gao and the surrounding countryside, which suffered the brunt of the occupation by the MUJAO forces.

    Since the Islamist groups took flight as a result of French air raids, Arab-owned stores were looted, leading Arab and Tuareg shop owners to close their doors and hide their stock till the situation improves, further adding to already limited food supplies.

    “Goods have gone up 30 percent in general and 66 percent for fuel,” Grosjean said, adding that even if the supplies were there, there is simply no money left in Gao.

    “After the closure of banks, traders went to Bamako to get cash to bring to the north, but since the start of the bombing, there has been nothing.”

    The need for a political solution

    In Timbuktu, the humanitarian situation is less alarming, but there is a great fear of reprisals. There, too, Arab- and Tuareg-owned businesses were looted on Jan. 29, following the arrival of French and Malian forces.

    France has called for the rapid deployment of international observers to prevent inter-ethnic tensions from throwing northern Mali into chaos.

    Meanwhile, the most urgent priority is to restore access to healthcare in northern Mali.

    “We are waiting a day or two before we open the Gao health centre, as we are expecting a huge inflow of patients,” Grosjean said.

    Aid to Mali, particularly from the European Union (EU), was suspended in March last year, when the Malian army ousted the democratically elected civilian government.

    Following the onset of France’s so-far-successful offensive against the rebels, International governments, including the EU have pledged over 450 million dollars for Mali, as well as human resources to support the training of the country’s army.

    Political leaders and international organizations are expected to meet in Brussels on Tuesday, Feb. 5 to discuss a political process that would lead to democratic elections and ways to strengthen development and human rights in Mali once political order has been restored, according to Reuters on Monday.


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/05/2013 11:19 GMT

    GENEVA, Feb 05, 2013 (AFP) - The United Nations said Tuesday it had resumed food aid operations in northern Mali, which were frozen after a French-led offensive against radical Islamists began there last month.

    "The World Food Programme has relaunched its distribution of food and nutritional supplements in the north of Mali," the UN food agency's spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva.

    She said seven boats carrying 600 tonnes of aid left the river port of Mopti at the weekend bound for a district in the Timbuktu region.

    The goal is to provide a month's worth of food aid to some 35,000 people, including almost 3,000 children aged under five years, and more than 600 pregnant women and new mothers.

    French forces intervened in Mali on January 11 to help the army halt an advance on the capital Bamako by Islamists who overran the north after a military coup in March.

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    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development
    Country: Niger

    It is 9:30 am at the Child Friendly Space in District 1 of the Abala refugee camp. The children are already starting to leave the classroom, their thoughts already far from the mornings activities, they are already at the food distribution centre about 30 metres away in spirit if not in body.

    In small groups, they head towards the food distribution centre, the smallest holding each other’s hands. Some trot along, keen to be the first to arrive! Women welcome them to the centre and try desperately to get the children to sit patiently on the plastic mat: “you sit here… stay there, stop moving!” is a frequent cry heard coming from the food distribution centre. It is here that they must wait for their daily ration of what can only be described as nutritionally rich, gruel.

    In the kitchen, three women are in charge of preparing the meal, putting the final touches to the gruel made of supercereals that are nutritionally rich. The women fill up the beakers, one after the other, with an expert hand, with the yellowish mixture, that the children affectionately refer to as “Bitamam”.

    The women head towards the children, ever more impatient: “over here!” they shout, clicking their fingers and standing on tiptoes or for the youngest, simply bursting into tears, desperate to be seen and served. Once the dinner lady has been round about 10 times, things start to calm down! All of the children sip calmly on their gruel, some use spoons others hold the bowl up to their mouths to really get the most out of their bitamam and get the very last drop.

    Some mothers accompany their children to the food distribution centre for these very particular meal times. They are happy because the children are no longer hungry, always asking for food. Fatimat, a young mum at 32 years old accompanies her three children, among who figures, Matoulaye, 11 months old. “At the beginning, the children didn’t want to come. Now it’s them who remind me that it’s time to eat! Once they arrive at the distribution centre they are all pushing and shoving each other to be the first to be served. Even my little girl Matoulaye has some of the gruel,” explains a smiling and satisfied Fatimat.

    Aguiziri is an old woman at 65 years old. She has come to the distribution centre with her three grandchildren. “They won’t leave me alone. As soon as they realize that it’s time for their gruel I can’t stay at the house. I happily take them and then I bring them home afterwards,” she told us, proudly.

    More than simply providing the children with a nutritious meal, the mothers learn about nutrition and how to nourish their children thanks to the awareness raising campaigns.

    --

    2,072 children aged between 6 and 59 months living in the Abala refugee camp benefit from this programme of food distribution put in place by the World Food Programme, UNHCR, UNICEF and ACTED. Four distribution centres have been created in different districts of the camp and as well as a communual centre. The first serving of the gruel was dished up on 31st December 2012 following the training of women involved in the preparation of this food supplement for children.

    Everyday this activity mobilizes 150 women as 30 women per district for three daily meals need to be prepared. Each woman implicated in this activity receives a daily payment of 1.50euros. A monthly screening of children will shortly begin in the centres in order to reduce the rate of child malnutrition. The most serious cases of malnutrition will be referred to the nearest health centre and will be taken on by the MSF FR team. An awareness raising campaign will also target women and young girls in the community so that they are aware of the importance of good nutritional practices.


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    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Niger

    Highlights

    • Despite flooding in parts, adequate rainfall during the main cropping season together with improved distribution of key inputs, has resulted in a favourable cereal harvest in 2012.

    • Aggregate cereal production, estimated at over 5.1 million tonnes (including off-season crop harvest forecasts) is about 42 percent higher than the 2011 output and well above the average of the past five years.

    • Accordingly, the country is expected to have a cereal surplus that would partly help the replenishment of stocks, which were depleted after the 2011/12 food crisis.

    • With the exception of a few localized areas, the rangelands have also recovered well and the water points have been replenished.

    • The improved harvest position, coupled with favourable crop prospects in most neighbouring countries, is expected to lead to a much improved food availability during the 2012/13 marketing year (November-October).

    • This generally favourable situation nevertheless follows in the wake of a particularly difficult year.
      In 2011, late rains and prolonged dry spells seriously compromised agricultural and pasture production across the country. Cereals production dropped by 31 percent compared to the previous year, while biomass production in the pastoral zones was 50 percent below domestic requirements.

    • The Mission found that the 2011/12 food crisis had caused a drop in incomes, substantial loss of assets, increased levels of household indebtedness, and deteriorated the nutritional situation of the pastoralist, agro-pastoralist and other farming groups.

    • The Inter-agency Assessment Mission considers it a matter of urgency to improve household purchasing power and access to food that is available domestically by supporting off-season cropping and other income-generating activities. Support also needs to be given to the marketing of agricultural products through local purchases, where possible, and the replenishment of national food security stocks. It is also essential to continue supporting the nutritional recuperation centres.


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/05/2013 13:06 GMT

    Par Serge DANIEL

    GAO (Mali), 05 fév 2013 (AFP) - Les soldats français s'apprêtent à quitter Tombouctou pour se rendre à Gao, puis à Kidal (extrême nord-est), où se trouvent déjà 1.800 soldats tchadiens, alors que le Groupe de soutien au Mali, qui rassemble les grandes organisations internationales, se réunit mardi à Bruxelles.

    "Le monde entier est là. Nous allons réfléchir aujourd'hui sur tout ce qui concerne la stabilisation" du Mali, a déclaré le ministre malien des Affaires étrangères, Tiéman Coulibaly, à son arrivée à la réunion de Bruxelles.

    Une quarantaine de responsables des pays d'Afrique de l'ouest, d'Europe et des grandes organisations comme l'ONU, l'Union Africaine, la Communauté économique des Etats d’Afrique de l’Ouest (Cédéao) ou la Banque Mondiale participent à cette réunion du Groupe de soutien au Mali.

    Elle porte notamment sur le mode de fonctionnement et de financement de la force ouest-africaine, la Misma, chargée de prendre le relais de l'armée française au Mali.

    Le ministre ivoirien de l'Intégration africaine, dont le pays préside la Cédéao, Ally Coulibaly, a indiqué que son pays était "favorable"à une évolution du statut de la Misma passant sous l'autorité de l'ONU, comme l'ont demandé lundi le président François Hollande et le vice-président américain Joe Biden.

    Cette force, qui doit prendre le relais de 4.000 Français, doit à terme comprendre quelque 4.000 soldats, dont 2.000 sont déjà au Mali. Un contingent distinct de 2.000 Tchadiens est lui déjà presque entièrement déployé.

    Le Groupe de soutien au Mali doit aussi étudier la reprise de l'aide publique au Mali. A elle seule, l'UE pourrait débloquer 250 millions d'euros.

    La communauté internationale va également "proposer son aide à l'organisation des élections" promises par le président malien par intérim Dioncounda Traoré d'ici au 31 juillet. "C'est un calendrier ambitieux", a souligné un responsable européen.

    La France a déjà annoncé la reprise progressive de l'aide publique au développement, gelée depuis le coup d'Etat militaire du 22 mars 2012 qui avait précipité la chute du Nord aux mains des islamistes armés.

    Sur le terrain, une première colonne de véhicules blindés français devait traverser, en empruntant un bac, le fleuve Niger aux environs de Tombouctou, pour se diriger vers Gao, la plus grande ville du nord du Mali, reprise le 26 janvier par des soldats français et maliens.

    Il faudra plusieurs jours aux quelque 600 soldats français présents à Tombouctou pour rallier leur destination, selon des sources militaires françaises.

    Des soldats maliens, arrivés avec les Français, continueront à assurer la sécurité de cette ville emblématique du nord du Mali, mutilée par les jihadistes.

    1.800 soldats tchadiens à Kidal

    De Gao, les Français doivent se rendre à Kidal, à 1.500 km au nord-est de Bamako, près de la frontière algérienne, où l'armée française contrôle l'aéroport depuis presque une semaine.

    La ville elle-même est "sécurisée" par quelque 1.800 Tchadiens, a indiqué mardi le ministère français de la Défense.

    Kidal était un bastion du groupe islamiste armé Ansar Dine (Défenseurs de l'islam), mais elle est passée sous le contrôle du Mouvement islamique de l'Azawad (MIA, dissidence d'Ansar Dine s'affirmant "modérée") et du Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad (MNLA, rebelles touareg) juste avant l'arrivée de soldats français dans la nuit du 29 au 30 janvier.

    Ces deux groupes ont apporté leur soutien à l'entrée en ville de soldats français, mais ils ont refusé la présence de militaires de la Cédéao (dont ne fait pas partie le Tchad), par crainte d'exactions contre les Arabes et Touareg, souvent assimilées aux groupes islamistes.

    Les soldats français poursuivent dans le même temps leur traque des chefs et combattants islamistes qui se seraient réfugiés dans le massif des Ifoghas, au nord de Kidal, près de la frontière algérienne.

    Des frappes aériennes massives ont été menées ces derniers jours dans la région de Tessalit et d'Aguelhok, au nord de Kidal, visant "principalement des dépôts logistiques et des centres d'entraînement", selon Paris.

    C'est aussi dans cette région de grottes et de montagnes que se trouveraient les sept otages français enlevés au Niger et au Mali en 2011 et 2012 par Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (Aqmi) et un autre groupe islamiste armé, le Mouvement pour l'unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (Mujao).

    Selon des sources de sécurité et un député malien touareg, une délégation des Touareg des Ifoghas a récemment rencontré les ravisseurs des otages français, assurant que certains se sont montrés dans "de bonnes dispositions".

    Parmi les chefs islamistes probablement réfugiés dans les Ifoghas figurent l'Algérien Abou Zeïd, un des émirs les plus radicaux d'Aqmi, et Iyad Ag Ghaly, chef d'Ansar Dine, ex-rebelle touareg malien des années 1990, originaire de Kidal, qui connaît parfaitement la région.

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    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: IRIN
    Country: Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Nigeria

    ACCRA, 5 February 2013 (IRIN) - At the launch of a Ghana-based Commission on the Impact of Drug-Trafficking on Governance, Security and Development in West Africa, its chair, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, said the situation in Mali should serve as a “wake-up call” to the perils of allowing organized crime to escalate out of control.

    He described the country’s north as a “den of drug trafficking, extremism and criminality”.

    Several research groups have reported that traffickers have linked up with extremist groups in the Sahel region, who use the profits to purchase weapons and fund radical activities. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has partially funded its activities in northern Mali over the past decade through profits from drug and cigarette trafficking and hostage ransoms, according to a 2012 report by the African Center for Strategic Studies.

    Analysts estimate around 60 tons of cocaine are trafficked through West Africa each year, while the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates 400kg of heroin was trafficked through the region in 2011. The trade brings in an estimated US$900 million per year to criminal networks, says UNODC.

    Some 15 percent of the cigarettes smoked in the region are bought on the black market and trafficked through West Africa, according to UNODC. AQIM and to some extent splinter-group Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) have been taxing traffickers in return for safeguarding their passage.

    “Organized criminal networks are deeply involved in the trafficking. Experience elsewhere in the world suggests that these groups will try to infiltrate political, security and financial institutions to secure their profits,” former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the audience at the launch of the Commission in Ghana’s capital last week.

    Over the last decade many West African states have made gains to consolidate peace and economic growth: the region is set to provide the US with 25 percent of its oil needs in 2015 - but drug-trafficking threatens this progress, said Annan.

    Most of the cocaine is transported from South America to Europe, using air and sea routes; while opiates tend to come from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Drugs are also increasingly being manufactured in the region. The police recently discovered methamphetamine laboratories_ in Nigeria, according to UNODC.

    Growing drug dependency

    There are now as many as 2.3 million cocaine users in West and Central Africa, and methamphetamine and heroin use are on the rise, UNODC reported in 2012. “The evidence points to a growing problem of dependency that needs urgent attention in our region,” Obasanjo said.

    Annan pointed out: “West Africa initially was seen as a transit point but no country remains a transit point for long. The population begins to use it.”

    The 10-member Commission intends to raise awareness of the impact of the drug trade, advise political leaders, and develop policy recommendations to help leaders deal with drug-trafficking.

    West Africa is an ideal environment for drug traffickers with its extensive porous borders, weak and easily corruptible institutions, and pre-existing criminal networks. In these poor nations it is easy to buy off low-paid and disenchanted officials and security personnel: “The police are bribed. Now, in a fairly poor African country, US$100 to a police constable is a lot of money. All he has to do is turn his eyes,” said Obasanjo.

    He added that criminal networks can easily smuggle goods through the region, buying off officials and security personnel at borders, as they move through remote regions of the Sahel and the Sahara desert.

    Fluid networks

    Criminal trafficking networks are international and very mobile, which makes it difficult to crack down on them, says the UNODC. Local and foreign criminal networks with access to massive resources work together to transport drugs through the region, adapting their operations in response to law enforcement efforts, according to an April 2012 joint report by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Center on International Cooperation, the Kofi Annan Foundation and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre.

    “West African organized criminal networks operate cells worldwide to facilitate the supply of goods, with Diaspora communities playing important roles (e.g. Nigerian Diaspora in Brazil). Like criminal groups elsewhere, they infiltrate or threaten political elites and dispirited public servants to protect and expand their business,” the report said.

    As the myriad abandoned construction sites in many West African states make clear, traffickers also extensively operate fronts to launder their profits, creating “shell companies” in the construction and mining sectors, as well as rental car companies.

    The government and security forces of Guinea-Bissau have already largely been taken over by drug trafficking networks, earning it the moniker of “narco-state.”

    AQIM members reportedly met Colombian drug lords in Guinea-Bissau, according to a 2010 report by France-based research group Sahel Intelligence. While the trade allegedly continues to flourish in Guinea-Bissau, networks have also gradually moved along the coast and inland through the Sahel, Annan said. “We didn’t act early enough when the problem started in Guinea-Bissau. That was the entry point and it’s now spread along the coast - and through the Sahel to Europe and by ship and by plane,” Annan told reporters. Other initiatives are way to try to quell the impact of drug-trafficking in the region, including an ECOWAS plan to address the challenges of trafficking.

    UNODC recently teamed up with the World Customs Organization to improve communications between police and airports.

    The Commission will deliver a report and submit policy recommendations to regional leaders by the end of 2013.

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    Source: IRIN
    Country: Mali

    BAMAKO/TOMBOUCTOU/DAKAR, 5 février 2013 (IRIN) - Les enfants ont repris le chemin de l'école à Tombouctou dans le nord du Mali le 1er février, une semaine après la fuite des islamistes.

    Les enseignants affirment qu'environ la moitié de tous les écoliers avaient fui le nord du Mali en 2012 lorsque les milices islamistes se sont emparées de presque tout le nord du pays et ont fermé les écoles publiques, complètement modifié le programme dans d'autres et envoyé certains enfants à l'école coranique.

    « Vous ne pouvez pas imaginer la joie que j'ai ressentie en retournant dans cette classe », a déclaré la directrice de la principale école primaire de Tombouctou, Coulibaly Ami Doucaré. Elle avait abandonné l'école en avril dernier lorsque le groupe islamiste Ansar Dine avait pris le contrôle de Tombouctou.

    « Il est important que nous sauvions cette année scolaire. Nous ferons tout pour rattraper les cours, même si nous devons enseigner le dimanche », a-t-elle déclaré, appelant tous les instituteurs qui s'étaient enfuis à revenir. Une campagne pour recruter des enseignants d'école primaire bénévoles a déjà attiré 12 personnes.

    Aminata Touré, élève en 3e, a déclaré à IRIN : « Tout d'abord, j'ai l'impression d'être sortie de prison. Je peux me promener en ville, je peux m'habiller comme je veux, vous voyez, je porte un jean. Ensuite, ce qui me rend heureuse est que j'ai retrouvé ma classe, mes amis, mes professeurs et mes manuels scolaires. Je pensais que l'année scolaire était gâchée, mais maintenant je vais pouvoir passer mon brevet et aller au lycée l'année prochaine ». La plupart des écoliers de Tombouctou ont perdu au moins quatre mois de l'année scolaire.

    Mamadou Mangara, gouverneur de la région de Tombouctou, a encouragé les parents à faire tout leur possible pour aider à réparer les écoles afin qu'elles puissent rouvrir.

    Beaucoup écoles ont été détruites à Tombouctou et à Gao, des pupitres et des bancs pillés ou abîmés. L'association « L'école pour tous » et l'ONG (organisation non gouvernementale) locale Cri de Cour ont commandé 100 pupitres et bancs d'écoliers, ainsi que des cahiers et des crayons qui seront envoyés aux écoles dans le nord, a déclaré le président de Cri de Cour, Almahady Cissé.

    La moitié des 5 000 étudiants de l'Académie d'enseignement de Tombouctou ont fui dans le centre et le sud du Mali ou vers les pays voisins, selon un enseignant de l'académie, Mamadou Camara. D'après les estimations du ministère de l'Éducation, fin 2012, 10 000 enfants déplacés du nord n'avaient pas accès à l'éducation.

    En plus d'aider à la réparation des bâtiments scolaires, les habitants de Tombouctou doivent aussi en priorité réparer des dizaines de centres de santé endommagés et faire venir du carburant pour réapprovisionner la ville en électricité et en eau courante, a expliqué le maire de Tombouctou, Hallé Maïga.

    Au nord, l'insécurité alimentaire s'accroit à cause des voies d'approvisionnement coupées et des pénuries de produits de base, selon les organisations humanitaires. Une évaluation précédente réalisée par le Programme alimentaire mondial (PAM) des Nations Unies a montré que 585 000 Maliens du nord souffraient d'insécurité alimentaire sur une population estimée à 1,3 million.

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    Source: World Vision
    Country: Mali

    World Vision is extremely concerned about the plight of girls and young women in Northern Mali, amid growing reports of young women being beaten, raped and forced to become 'brides' for armed opposition groups.

    Chance Briggs, World Vision County Director for Mali, said: “The stories we are hearing from these girls are truly horrifying. Those who have escaped with their families have had terrible traumatic experiences. Some of those who did not flee will have even worse stories to tell.”

    In recent days World Vision staff have been hearing the testimonies of girls and women who have fled Northern Mali

    Sata, 16

    Sata's story was told to us by a woman called Namina. In December, Namina escaped from Timbuktu, the world famous city claimed to have been founded by Touaregs and one of the areas that fell to armed opposition groups, who imposed their own strict social and religious controls on the populace. Namina left with her three young daughters and six other children from her village. Her neighbours and their 16-year old daughter Sata were left behind after Sata was kidnapped. “I saw a group (of rebels) come to the house and take Sata by force,” Namina reveals. “They gave her parents CFA 10,000 (£15) to `marry’ Sata. But the parents said no. The girl was weeping and tried to tear herself away from her captors. Her mother was weeping. But they came with guns. Sata was taken.”

    A few days later Sata managed to get hold of a mobile phone while her captors were away. She was able to call her family and told them that she was placed in a house preparing food for her abductors. Initially they told her that she was the wife of one man but later told her she was to be 'shared'. Sata alleged that multiple men had raped her.

    Sata had been warned not to try to escape or she would be killed and her family targeted. Her parents did not dare go to the camp to try and rescue her, but they stayed behind hoping for news.

    Fatou, 16

    Fatou, 16, also fled Timbuktu with her mother.

    “One day, my mother sent me to the market. I knew that girls were supposed to wear a scarf to cover our heads. But that day I was not wearing one and the `rebellion police’ saw me. They said they were going to give me a lesson. They beat me up badly.”

    Fatou went on to say that before she fled, she saw other girls caught without scarves beaten with a stick and given 100 lashes as punishment.

    And then there were boys

    People who had been forced to flee their homes also told us tales of young boys who have been forcibly taken and ‘enrolled’ in armed opposition group training camps. We were told boys are bought for a much heftier price than girls – CFA 200,000-400,000 (£270-620).

    Namina told us of a young boy she knows named Mohammed who was recruited as a child soldier. “These boys are very traumatized because they are taught how to use guns and how to fight. The children also see people whose hands or feet are being cut off (by rebels).”

    Urgent measures need to be taken to protect Mali's children. World Vision UK are calling on the British Government to ensure that child protection training is given to all Malian troops.

    "As similar stories of children come to light, more and more of them will need support," added Briggs. "World Vision is working in partnership with UNICEF and other child focused agencies to train UN and NGO staff to provide immediate help when they come across such cases. Strengthening the Malian Government’s ability to provide support for these children at local levels must also be a key priority."

    Chance Briggs, Director World Vision Mali is based in Bamako and is available for interview. Please contact 07889 631 613 for interview requests.


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/05/2013 15:56 GMT

    Par Marc BASTIAN

    DOUENTZA (Mali), 05 fév 2013 (AFP) - "Nous vivons sous embargo, nous ne pouvons pas circuler", se plaint un habitant de Douentza au Mali. La vie s'y déroule en état de siège: la pénurie règne, la ville est cernée de chars et de pick-up maliens, et ses accès seraient minées.

    Située en Pays Dogon, dominée par de superbes petites montagnes quasi verticales (la "Falaise de Bandiagara") qui attiraient autrefois les touristes, Douentza (800 km au nord-est de Bamako) comptait quelque 25.000 habitants avant le conflit, dont 10.000 environ ont fui l'occupation depuis septembre 2012 de la ville par le Mouvement pour l'unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (Mujao), un groupe islamiste armé.

    Selon des habitants, les islamistes ont quitté la ville après plusieurs frappes aériennes françaises mi-janvier. Les bâtiments où ils étaient basés, le lycée, l'académie d'enseignement et l'hôtel N'Douldi, ont été éventrés par les missiles et sont parsemés de munitions qui ont explosé à cause de la chaleur.

    D'après Boureima Cissé, comptable de 28 ans, les islamistes ont tué ici un homme, un milicien gouvernemental Gandakoye (anti-islamiste) qui refusait de les soutenir. "Il possédait des armes, quelqu'un l'a dénoncé. On a formé un comité pour plaider sa cause, mais ils l'ont tué à coups de pierre et de bâton", explique-t-il.

    Pas d'amputations, ce que confirment d'autres habitants, mais comme ailleurs la "chicotte" (fouet) publique et les viols étaient fréquents.

    Les extrémistes partis, les militaires sont arrivés le 21 janvier.

    Reste aujourd'hui une forte présence malienne: d'antiques chars T55 rouillés de conception soviétique et des pick-up de combats camouflés sont positionnés aux sorties de la ville, leurs canons et mitrailleuses lourdes orientés vers la brousse sèche où rôdent "des éléments" islamistes, selon un officier malien.

    Requérant l'anonymat, ce dernier assure que des mines auraient été posées sur la route reliant Douentza à Tombouctou (250 km au nord), et sur celle menant à Gao (400 km au nord-est), stratégique pour accéder à la région de Kidal (1.500 km au nord-est de Bamako), où de nombreux islamistes se seraient retranchés avec les sept otages français.

    "Nous vivons sous embargo"

    Deux soldats maliens ont péri jeudi sur une mine près de Douentza, et deux mines artisanales ont été découvertes dimanche sur l'axe Douentza-Gao, selon des sources militaires.

    La circulation est possible sur cette voie et vers Tombouctou, mais la route du Sud, vers Bamako, essentielle pour l'approvisionnement, reste fermée pour limiter les mouvement des islamistes.

    Du coup, les habitants se plaignent: "Nous vivons sous embargo, nous ne pouvons pas circuler", grogne Ousmane Koïta, propriétaire de l'hôtel La Falaise, fermé depuis 10 mois.

    "La vie commence à reprendre son cours normal, mais l'électricité fait grand défaut depuis l'envahissement (sic) par les hommes du Mujao", explique-t-il.

    "Pour le moment, il y a assez à manger, mais le commerce est presque paralysé. On peut sortir mais pas entrer" dans la ville, souligne-t-il.

    Sur le marché où fruits et légumes sont rares, des hommes traînent, désoeuvrés sur la place sablonneuse - le chômage est massif.

    Amadou Traoré, 25 ans, vend des patates dans son échoppe, quatre troncs d'arbres maigres et tordus surmontés d'un toit de paille. "On ne trouve pas de pommes de terre car la route est coupée. Ca fait presqu'un mois qu'on ne gagne rien", depuis le début de l'intervention militaire française le 11 janvier, déplore-t-il.

    Devant lui trône son maigre stock: 4 à 5 kg de patates, dont le prix a bondi de 450 à 700 francs CFA (0,69 à 1,07 euro) le kg.

    A côté, dans un container métallique transformé en station-service, Ousmane Omgoïba arrive toujours à fournir ses clients. La pénurie totale menaçant, l'armée malienne a fait venir une citerne il y a quelques jours.

    "La citerne nous a sauvés un peu", commence le quadragénaire avant de s'interrompre: le corbillard de Douentza vient faire le plein. Sur son flanc est inscrit en lettres blanches: "Toute âme connaîtra la mort".

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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/05/2013 16:23 GMT

    by Serge Daniel

    GAO, Mali, Feb 05, 2013 (AFP) - Chadian troops swarmed into the desert town of Kidal in northeastern Mali on Tuesday, securing the last Islamist bastion as global players met in Brussels to carve out a path back to stability for the troubled west African nation.

    The French defence ministry said 1,800 Chadian troops had entered Kidal to "secure" the Saharan outpost, after days of air strikes in the surrounding mountains where Islamist insurgents are believed to be hiding in hillside caves near the Algerian border.

    "The French are controlling the airport with the back-up of two paratrooper units," a ministry official said, adding that nearly 4,000 French troops were now on the ground in its former colony.

    The official said French air strikes had hit 25 targets in recent days, "mainly logistical depots and training centres" in the areas of Aguelhok and Tessalit, near the Algerian border.

    French-led forces have driven out the extremist fighters, who had for 10 months controlled a swathe of northern territory the size of Texas, from their key strongholds after sweeping to Mali's aid on January 11.

    The rebels slipped away into the Adrar des Ifoghas massif around Kidal, a craggy mountain landscape honeycombed with caves where they are believed to be holding seven French hostages kidnapped in Mali and Niger in 2011 and 2012.

    A Tuareg group formerly allied with the Islamists, the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA) -- which was fighting for an independent state but fell out with the extremists who were more interested in imposing sharia -- said it was working with the French against "terrorists" in the region.

    "In the framework of anti-terrorist coordination put in place with French forces" the former MNLA rebels will provide intelligence on "top terrorist officials" they have arrested, a spokesman said in Burkina Faso.

    The group said it was responsible for the arrest on Sunday of two Islamist leaders, Mohamed Moussa Ag Mohamed, the number three in Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith), and Oumeini Ould Baba Akhmed of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).

    The MNLA launched a rebellion a year ago fighting for an independent homeland for the desert nomad Tuareg people, who have long felt marginalised by the central government.

    But, after being chased out of their strongholds by the Islamists, they have voiced a willingness to negotiate since France launched its intervention. And Mali's interim leadership has welcomed them at the table if they renounce their claim to an independent state.

    In France, President Francois Hollande, whose decision to intervene in Mali won him a hero's welcome there during a whirlwind tour on Saturday, defended the decision to send troops in his first address to the European Parliament since taking office.

    "There was no time to lose," he said, otherwise "terrorism would have conquered all of Mali".

    Hollande also urged Europe to fight drug trafficking in west Africa, saying "terrorism feeds on narcotics trafficking".

    Analysts say the groups that seized northern Mali depend on drug trafficking, smuggling and kidnapping to arm themselves.

    Western powers have raised concerns the region could become a new breeding ground for terrorists.

    On Tuesday three French-Congolese and a Malian were arrested near Paris as part of a probe into a network set up to send jihadists to fight in west Africa.

    In Brussels, global players met to carve out plans for Mali's future once the 26-day-old offensive draws to an end.

    Mali's Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly said as he arrived for the talks that the threat in northern Mali "concerns all civilised countries".

    At the top of the immediate political agenda in Brussels will be the dispatch of human rights observers, amid fears of reprisals against light-skinned Tuareg and Arabs who are accused of backing the Islamists.

    Aside from rustling up aid and speeding up plans to deploy a formal United Nations peacekeeping force, the delegations from the UN, African Union and other blocs will also mull how to assist Mali hold elections before July 31, restoring constitutional rule after a coup that tipped Mali into chaos on March 22.

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