Efforts to bring stability back to Mali have been stepped up over the past few weeks with preparations to deploy 3,300 West African troops.
The unrest began when Islamist groups and Tuareg rebels took control of northern Mali following a military coup in early 2012. The Tuareg people have long opposed the central Malian government, claiming they were not fully represented and calling for Northern Mali to become an independent Tuareg state.
Islamist groups have since driven out the Tuareg rebels and seized control of Northern Mali – an area roughly the size of France. This has attracted supporters of Islamist groups from neighbouring countries, such as Algeria. Over the past month, increasing numbers of supporters have converged on Northern Mali.
The West African force will not initially use military power; instead it intends to focus on ensuring security in the government-controlled south, retraining the Malian army and protecting refugees and villagers. The allied countries hope this intervention will encourage the Islamist groups to negotiate.
The central government continues to control the south of the country, where MRDF’s partners are based. The situation in Southern Mali is relatively stable with the majority of people carrying out business as normal. In October, farmers were able to gather in their main harvest of the year, which has started to improve the availability and price of food. MRDF partners, J&D, GRAFE and AMAPEF are continuing to carry out their projects as normal.
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