In Mali, a humanitarian crisis is following in the wake of the political crisis there. Rebels have captured territories using arms from the embers of Ghadaffi’s regime, embers strong enough to kindle the flames of secession as Tuareg rebels proclaim their own nation, the Republic of Azawad. An estimated 95,000 persons have been internally displaced by the fighting, a situation compli-cated by a coup d’etat ostensibly in response to the poor handling of the mutiny in the northern part of the country. Now, with a hitherto ineffectual government struggling for reinstatement by an internationally condemned military regime, the human suffering is
left for nongovernmental institutions to salvage.
The World Food Programme and other organisations are mobi-lising resources to cater to the hungry internally displaced persons. Livelihoods are being lost because tourism, which was a mainstay of the economy, took a hit on its cranial nerve of Timbuktu,one of the towns now in the hands of the rebels. UNESCO warns that escalation of violence in northern Mali could gravely affect the world heritage sites in that part of the country. What can be done? Regional intergovernmental organisation ECOWAS has placed sanctions on the illegitimate regime in Mali, with the aim of isolat-ing it, and it has called for restraint by the combatants. But ECOWAS faces the dilemma of a last resort to armed confrontation to flush out a military regime while fighting another war against the bad precedent that a breakaway country would set for other discontented groups in the region.
An example of such groups is the Boko Haram, with a seemingly well articulated regime of violence in northern Nigeria. In the face of their unrelenting bomb attacks that have already killed thou-sands of Muslims and Christians, President Goodluck Jonathan has embarked on a social strategy when he commissioned a number of Islamic schools recently in the hope of suppressing a growing impression that his government is at war with Islam or with the political establishment in the north. New threats of bombings in the Nigerian capital Abuja have been reported, nonetheless.
Citizens are then resorting to self help for security and many basics. This edition of our newsletter touches on some of these initiatives, from the delivery of ICT for socio economic opportuni-ties, through mobile toilet business, to a women empowerment initiative in the impoverished northern part of Nigeria. They are stories of promise that aptly complement our Special Report which is on the prospects of garri processing for economic empowerment of women. There is some aspirational value that strikes a reader at the end of this edition; it is my hope that you carry that away.
–Odoh Diego Okenyodo