Mali Demands French, European Troops Leave Country Immediately

The military government of Mali says France’s decision to withdraw troops is a violation of bilateral accords. At the same time, the government says it wants French forces to leave Mali immediately.During an address from Elysee Palace Thursday, French …

The military government of Mali says France’s decision to withdraw troops is a violation of bilateral accords. At the same time, the government says it wants French forces to leave Mali immediately.

During an address from Elysee Palace Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron said the withdrawal of French and European forces from Mali would take between four and six months.

But Mali’s military government has now asked that forces with Operation Barkhane and the Takuba Task Force depart immediately.

Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, a spokesperson for Mali’s military government, read the government’s statement on Mali’s state television station ORTM.

Maiga called France’s move a “unilateral decision,” similar to decisions that France announced last June suspending joint operations with the Malian army and ending Operation Barkhane.

These decisions, he said, were made without consultation with the Malian side and constitute flagrant violations of French-Malian agreements.

Maiga said that in view of these repeated breaches of the defense agreements, the government asks the French authorities to withdraw, without delay, Barkhane and Takuba forces from national territory, under the supervision of Malian authorities.

The French first intervened in Mali in 2013, in Operation Serval, which was aimed at taking back control of northern Mali from Islamists. Operation Serval was replaced by anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane.

The Takuba task force is a French-led European military operation of about 800 troops that was deployed in 2020. There are around 2,400 French troops currently in Mali.

Tensions between the French and Malian governments have been rising for months. France has accused Mali of working with Russian mercenaries, and Mali expelled the French ambassador in January after France’s foreign minister called Mali’s government “illegitimate.”

Mali suffered military coups in 2020 and 2021 and has been suspended from the African Union.

Source: Voice of America

Africa’s Sahel Region Faces Worsening Food Crisis

Africa’s Sahel region is facing a perfect storm of disasters that are drastically diminishing the ability of people to feed themselves.The World Food Program warns millions of people across the region are facing a worsening food crisis, with more than …

Africa’s Sahel region is facing a perfect storm of disasters that are drastically diminishing the ability of people to feed themselves.

The World Food Program warns millions of people across the region are facing a worsening food crisis, with more than a million on the brink of starvation.

The WFP reports conflict in the region, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have plunged more than 10.5 million people into acute hunger.

WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri says this number includes 1.1 million people who are on the point of starvation, a nearly 10-fold increase over the past three years. He says the many calamities befalling the region plus the rising costs of food and other commodities are putting basic meals out of reach for millions.

“People have been chased from their homes by extremist groups, displacement has grown by almost 400%, people have been starved by drought, and they have been plunged into despair by COVID’s economic ripple effects,” Phiri said.

The WFP reports the recent spillover of the conflict from Burkina Faso into Benin risks further destabilizing the entire region and destroying development gains.

The agency has been providing food assistance to 9.3 million people in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. Phiri warns this lifeline for millions is being threatened because of budgetary constraints.

“While the needs are sky high, resourcing to support the vulnerable is at rock bottom, forcing the World Food Program into a difficult position of having to take from those who are hungry to feed those who are just about to starve or already are starving,” he said.

Phiri says this is happening in Niger right now. He says a funding shortfall in that country is forcing the WFP to cut food rations by half for 1.4 million people. He warns similar cuts may have to be made in other countries unless more money is forthcoming.

The WFP is appealing for $470 million to carry out its lifesaving

humanitarian operation for the next six months.

Source: Voice of America