Displaced by fighting, many Malians want to go home. Author Paul Jeffery describes the situation and a Catholic Relief Services program that is responding to people’s needs. Excerpts from The Lay Catholic:
MOPTI, Mali (CNS) — Boubanar Traore wants to go home. He’s not sure how he’ll survive there, however, so for now he sits in a camp for displaced people, hoping that things will change.
“If we go back home, what can we do there? We lost our houses and our assets, so what will we do? We need help in getting our lives started again,” said Traore, who fled from his village of Hombori in 2012 after Islamist rebels killed the town’s chief….
The United Nations said that on June 20, more than 353,000 people were displaced within Mali, and more than 174,000 were living as refugees in neighboring countries.
Unlike many political crises in Africa that produce huge camps of displaced people and refugees, most of those internally displaced inside Mali took shelter in the homes of relatives, mostly in Bamako, the nation’s capital. The Malian government discouraged the establishment of large camps, and aid officials admit they were not expecting the massive exodus from the North.
“It happened so fast the U.N. had no time to react,” said Sean Gallagher, the country director for the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services.
So when displaced families moved in with relatives, CRS and other aid groups offered food and cash to help out. For the 70 families in the camp who had no relatives with whom they could seek shelter, CRS provided water and sanitation facilities, as well as hygiene kits.