UN Under-Secretary General and UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet visited Mali last week to underscore the need to protect women and girls from gender-based violence in the midst of the fighting in Mali between rebels who have taken over the north and the Malian government and its allies.
During war women are typically the perpetual victims of sexual crimes and other forms of gender violence. In remarks during Bachelet’s visit with internally displaced women at the Women’s House. Bamako, Mali. 9 January 2013 she said, “International law categorically prohibits rape and other forms of sexual violence in conflict. There cannot be amnesty for these crimes. And there must be justice for anyone who has been a victim of these crimes: Commanders are responsible for stopping it, and if they do not, they are criminally liable.”
During Bachelet’s visit to Mali some women came forward to tell their stories including a woman who recounted the assault she suffered in occupied Mali. Due to the increased incidence of gender violence UN Women have set out to:
- support the deployment of units to treat gender-based violence and the establishment of a national pool of psychologists to support women in both occupied and non-occupied areas.
- support a broad-based and inclusive political dialogue and advocate for women’s participation to be an integral part of the transition.
- launch a training program for women on mediation and conflict management, attended by parliamentarians and women leaders. UN Women is committed to making sure that the voices of women in Mali are heard and acted upon.
After Bachelet’s visit to Mali, she traveled to Nigeria to deliver remarks and recommendations to ECOWAS (Economic Security of West African States). There Bachelet commended ECOWAS for being a “a driving force for gender
equality and women’s empowerment in West Africa.” Bachelet also urged ECOWAS to use its recognition in the region and programs to advance women in greater equality roles.
Read more at http://www.unwomen.org
Photo Credits: UN Women/DFA
Last Friday France began strategic airstrikes in northern Mali against rebel groups that have crippled the government since the early part of last year. France has said its intervention will be swift. The United States has already given its support to France saying it will provide intelligence and overhead surveillance according to NBC News. Britain has also pledged its support with logistical assistance.
And African troops are set to flow into the country fighting on the side of the Malian government. Meanwhile the rebels have said via the press that France has “opened the gates of hell” calling France’s interference in military matters a catalyst to the next Afghanistan.
The United Nations’ Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, was briefed about the situation on the ground in Mali last Saturday by the President of Côte d’Ivoire and Chair of ECOWAS, Mr. Alassane Ouattara. And on January 10, Mohammad Masood Khan Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN and President of the Security Council for the month of January, spoke to journalists following closed-door Council consultations on the situation in Mali (above).
“These latest events underscore the urgency of implementing all aspects of the resolution, including support to ECOWAS mediation efforts, the development of a consensual roadmap for the transition and provision of support to AFISMA and the Malian defence forces, said the Secretary-General.
Due to the fighting a humanitarian crisis will undoubtedly grow. The World Food Programme has already said it is prepared to provide food assistance to hundreds of thousands of displaced persons who flee the fighting. And the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said over 300,000 people are spilling over the borders in Burkina Faso and Nigeria. The UNHCR has launched an appeal to the public to help as many people as possible.
Follow the most recent news about Mali on Twitter at #Mali.
Photo: United Nations
Can you imagine not being able to feed your children? I can’t either. I have never been in this situation, but mothers all across the Sahel are facing this dire dilemma even as I write this.
In Mali in particular where one president stepped down on Sunday, another takes office on Thursday and rebels are holding the north, mothers and their children are facing an even harder challenge getting the food they need to survive.
UNICEF wrote on Twitter today that the crops have failed and the food crisis is worsening.
The annual rains didn’t come this year, crops failed, food prices are high and rising, and now there is political and military unrest in the country which leads to massive displacement. All of these factors combined leads to food shortages and eventually famine. Famine in the Sahel is what relief agencies are trying desperately to avoid.
Watch the video below to see what is going on in Mali regarding the Sahel food crisis and click here (UNICEF) and here (World Food Programme) to see how you can help!