“I hope that this commitment from Scotland will help galvanise others to assist the people of Mali in this crisis situation.” Ben MacPherson
There has been a state of emergency in the West African country of Mali since November 2015. The situation in Mali continues to deteriorate. The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against all travel in the northern provinces and only essential travel in other parts.
In a response to a plea from Aid Agencies the Scottish Government is contributing £300,000 from its Humanitarian Emergency Fund. Almost 1/3 of the population are now living in dire circumstances, having to leave their homes and many suffering the effects of malnutrition.
Ben Macpherson, Minister for International Development in the Scottish Government said:
“The situation in Mali is very serious and this funding will provide aid to those most desperately in need. HEF member aid agencies on the ground, with extensive knowledge of the conflict, will work to ensure that this funding is targeted in order to maximise impact and alleviate suffering.
“Scotland is a compassionate, outward-looking nation and that is why, in demonstrating good global citizenship, the Scottish Government’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund provides essential aid to those in desperate need.
“I hope that this commitment from Scotland will help galvanise others to assist the people of Mali in this crisis situation.”
An ancient area with thousands of years of civilisation, Mali is one of the largest countries on the continent of Africa. It became a French colony in the 19th C and during both World Wars its men were conscripted to fight for France. Before becoming part of French West Africa it was made up of 3 successful independent empires with lucrative trading routes. Although it is landlocked 2 great rivers the Niger and the Sénégal flow through the land.
French continues to be the official language of Mali however there are many different peoples in this vast land with their own languages. 90% of the population are Sunni Muslims.
Mali gained its independence in 1960 but has had an uneasy time politically with military coups being a feature. It has a ‘democratic’ system with universal suffrage and political parties. Since 2013 a UN peace keeping force has been present and French troops have also been involved in their old colony. Al Qaeda and Tuareg forces are active in the north. The situation continued to deteriorate with Sufi shrines and monuments of enormous historical and cultural value being destroyed.
The UN formed Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in 2013 amounting to about 12,000 troops and those forces work with the remaining French combatants in the area. It is the most dangerous country that the UN’s peacekeepers are working in.
The funding from Scotland will go towards providing essential support including, for example, food assistance, hygiene promotion and drinking water.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame