Wars are not always easy, but in the case of Mali, it may be the rebuilding that is much more difficult. Malian & French troops quickly routed a Tuareg rebellion earlier this year. To prevent future spark ups, French and American troops are installing military installations in neighboring, Niger.
However, the legacy of the latest conflict is massive. Huge numbers have been internally displaced. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that there are 282,000 Malians forced away from their homes and 175,000 Malian refugees in neighboring countries. Others have had their livelihoods ruined and their future put at risk. According to the UN UNICEF spokeswoman, Marixie Mercado explained:
Most schools have been looted, and infrastructure damaged. Half of health facilities are not working. Water supply is poor and of poor quality. The vast majority of teachers and health workers are still not at their posts, especially outside of urban zones.
The two biggest foundations of long-term development – education and heath – are out of reach for most in Central to Northern Mali. The result is a humanitarian nightmare.
Yet, faced by massive needs, the response from the international community has been lackluster. The UNICEF spokeswoman also announced that only 24% of the $82 million to help Malian children had been received. While fundraising goals are always optimistic – less than $20 milion will not go far among the 700,000 children that are not yet back in school or the thousands who have been hurt by unexploded artillery!
If you too are shocked by this situation, you can donate to the UNHCR or UNICEF. You can also play a major role by contacting your Congressman and letting them know about this tragedy. Demand that they provide funding for foreign aid.
In just a few months is a scheduled election to replace the current interim government. The stronger the Malian people are in July, the more likely that electoral democracy can be smoothed into a more solid, deeper form – one that can grant its citizens security, peace, education, and a brighter future.