‘Tens of thousands of Malians are fleeing, seeking shelter in neighbouring countries and more are crossing the borders each day.’
Sentences like these can be read in international and Malian newspapers on an almost daily basis.
The Tuareg rebellion has caused a lot of casualties in the Northern part of the country. Most of them rebels and soldiers, but also civilians have lost their lives on several occasions. In the fighting zones many a family has left their home grounds, taking as much as possible of their belongings and cattle, in search of a safe place, hoping to return as soon as the rebellion is over.
International organizations are reaching out to those in need, giving it their best to provide shelter, food, clean water and medicines to the refugees.
I have read a lot of the newspaper articles and every time again it feels like something that’s happening somewhere else. As if those words are not written about the country I’m residing. And I am not the only one feeling that way. Whereas people from the North are fleeing from the fighting zone and many a Tuareg is fleeing out of fear for reprisals, most of the populated area of the country feels as safe as before. There have been some protests and demonstrations, and people are talking about it, but that’s about it. Life goes on as usual with just fewer tourists around.
Visiting the electricity company last month, I asked someone for the director and was told that he (a Tuareg) had fled the country, taking his entire family with him. Not even an hour after his departure angry people were knocking at the door searching for him.
‘His wife and children have returned’, the employee added ‘but he is still in Burkina Faso. And he probably better stays there. He has been talking bad about a lot of people and he did a lot of wrong things too. He for sure must have some enemies that have been waiting for an opportunity to take revenge.’
I was surprised by his openness. He was clearly not afraid of any reprisals in case the director might return. It almost felt like he was happy to have a chance to speak out loud. Having met the director once myself (see my blog ‘Energy consuming -2-…’ of September 2011), I can understand what was said.
‘If you have never done anything bad, there is no reason to be afraid’, the man summarized his monologue. The Tuaregs still peacefully walking the Ségou streets and interacting with others as always, may feel the same.
Let’s hope and pray that soon all people can walk all Malian streets in peace again!
Not only are people fleeing, over the past week it has been reported that refugees – including the director – have returned to their homes.