On November 24th and 25th the country of Mali was shaken up by two kidnappings.
Two French researchers were taken from their hotel in Hombori.
The next day a Dutch, a South-African and a Swede tourist were taken hostage from a restaurant in Timbuktu. A German man, resisting, was shot dead.
No words or anything else can make up for these actions. Our thoughts go out to all involved.
A small group of people, who believe to be acting in the name of God, commit crimes that will be very hard to explain from any religious book. They are not the only ones being on a religious ‘mission’ as was proved earlier this year in Norway.
The impact of the kidnappings in Mali is huge. For the men taken hostage, for all families involved and for the country and people of Mali.
In previous times tourism was good for over 40% of Malian’s financial economy. Combined with agriculture it provided the highly needed income for many a Malian family.
(This year’s rainy season has been quite dry and the harvest has been little in large parts of the country. Water levels are low and food prices are going up.)
Many a tourist is fearful of traveling to Mali nowadays and tourism has reached an all time low. Hotels and restaurants that managed to survive over the past two meager years, may have to close down in the near future, resulting in the loss of more jobs.
Facts are that the kidnappings happened and that the Northern regions of Mali are stated a no-go or red-zone.
Facts are also that Mali is a very large country and that the government has stated it being high priority to reinforce security for tourists.
Maybe you could ask yourself if you would consider traveling to Paris if something had happened in Amsterdam or Brussels? Would you stay away from the entire United Kingdom if the IRA terrorizes Northern Ireland. Or would you still consider traveling to Scotland, England and the Southern part of Ireland?
While the Malian government works on securing the Northern regions, providing a safe environment for tourists to travel, there is lots to see, do and experience in the South and West of the country. You will not only be warmly welcomed by the people, seeing you there will encourage them and restore their believe in better times.
Like the organization of the Festival au Désert asked people not to abandon the January 2012 festival, I ask you – on behalf of the people –not to abandon Mali.