By Idrissa Diakité
Mopti, Mali, Apr 5 (EFE).- Frequent attacks carried out by extremist Islamist groups in northern Mali have forced hundreds of families to seek shelter at the Mopti refugee camp, where amid the challenging conditions they dream of peace and returning home.
The internally displaced people arrive at the camp outside the town of Sévaré in the Mopti region after fleeing the restive north of the country, where terrorist groups are behind the burning of villages and murder of civilians.
The camp, 600 kilometers to the northwest of the capital Bamako, is located in a region that forms a gateway between southern and northern Mali.
Suffering from trauma and facing an uncertain length of time at the camp, the internally displaced turn to small jobs in order to survive while they wait for a positive turn of events.
This is the case for Bintou Karanguo, a widowed mother who left her northern village of Timenèré, an agricultural area known for herding activity, three years ago.
“It is a drama that has led us to flee from our Timenèré village to here,” she told Efe. “It is very difficult for me and my five children to survive from day to day.”
“We just want to return to our village to be able to work in our fields,” she said, adding that she has been making a living by through small jobs such as cleaning clothes.
“I hope that God helps us get out of this so we can return to our homes,” she told Efe before going to a stove near her tent to prepare a dish made from cereals.
Fellow camp resident Adama Minta fled his village Oundou after it came under attack by a group of armed men, who looted everything before setting fire to the houses and killing its inhabitants.
“We, the survivors, have had no other solution than to flee on foot or by transport to get here,” he told Efe.
“At first they welcomed us with food, clothes and many other things, but for a year things have been complicated,” he added.
The odd jobs he does do not allow him to provide for his large family, he said.
Some 386,000 people poured into the Mopti, Gao, Timbuktu, Segou and Menaka regions of Mali between January and May 2021, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported.
They are mostly children and women in a situation of extreme precariousness, the OCHA warned.
In addition to extremist violence, the African country is suffering from a harsh economic and financial embargo imposed by the Economic Community of West African States in a bid to force the government, which came to power in a coup, to shorten the transition period, call elections and restore constitutional order. EFE