Skirmishing continues in northern Mali between government forces and rebel groups seeking greater regional autonomy. The United Nations estimates that more than 160,000 people have been forced from their homes because of attacks by fighters from the Taureg people armed with heavy weaponry returned from Libya where they had allied with that nation’s late and deposed leader, Moammar Gadhafi. There also are reports that individuals seeking to take advantage of the unrest have attacked police stations and government buildings in two northern Mali districts, and the security situation throughout the region remains fluid.
The United States is working with the U.N. and other international partners to address the needs of the many Malians displaced inside their country, as well as those who have fled to neighboring Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Algeria. The need for food is particularly acute, and so far the U.S. has provided over $42 million in humanitarian assistance to the countries affected by the food crisis.
We are also concerned over reports of civilian deaths due to the fighting, and we call again for an immediate end to the violence. Legitimate political questions won’t be answered through violence that endangers civilians. The U.S. joins with France and others in the international community to call for all parties to engage in dialogue, not conflict, to resolve their differences and address political concerns.