Archive for March 2012
It has been a while since I posted photos and text on this blog. The last time I did, I was still in Baghdad. I finally left the rocketted city in December and I am now based in Dakar, Senegal – a much more peaceful place than Iraq. At least I thought so until demonstrations and riots started weeks ago following the decision of President Wade to run, at 85, for a third presidential mandate!
I have just spent two weeks on mission in Niger, where thousands of people have found refuge from Mali in the past weeks… Confrontations between the Tuareg rebel movement MNLA (Mouvement National de Liberation de l’Azawad) and Malian governmental forces started mid-January in the northern Azawad region and led thousands of Malian refugees and returning Niger nationals to fled Mali to Niger. At the end of February, an estimated 75,000 people had left Mali to find refuge in Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. Over 80,000 Malians were internally displaced in their country.
The MNLA was created late 2011 by Tuareg mercenaries originally from Mali who had served for years in the Khadafi army in Libya. After the end of the Libyan civil war in 2011, those men returned to Mali heavily armed and reactivated the Tuareg rebellion claiming independence for the Azawad region. Refugees also spoke of bandit groups roving the Azawad region and stealing villagers’ possessions and cattle.
While in Niger, I drove from the capital Niamey to the Niger-Mali border almost every day. Several hour-drive on partly tarmac, partly bumpy sandy and dirt roads. Here are some of the pictures and interviews I collected.