Hundreds of Malian refugees arriving in Mbera Refugee Camp in Mauritania are telling shocking tales of their agony at the hands of Malian soldiers, according to The Guardian.
They accuse government soldiers of abusing women, especially those whose husbands are believed to be members of Fulani Salafist terror group.
“Soldiers come to your home, if they cannot find the men, they tie up the women and hit and kick us. My brother’s wife had a miscarriage after she was beaten with a club,”Aissata Diallo, a Malian refugee and mother of four told The Guardian.
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She added that they were forced to flee Nampala, Mali, after her husband and four other men were arrested by Malian soldiers and taken to Bamako central prison, where she claimed one of the men was tortured to death.
Diallo had to pay a cash bribe of 1 million CFA to the Malian police to secure her husband’s release, after which they fled to Mbera.
Like many Malian refugees, Diallo claims her husband is not allied to Amadou Koufa, the Fulani Salafist jihadi who is one of Mali’s most wanted men and the leader of Macina Liberation Front (MLF) – an Islamic militant group operating in central Mali.
Humanitarian organizations working in Mbera Refugee Camp have decried the growing number of refugees from Mali, arguing that they are straining resources in the camp.
“We had a full rations rupture in March and managed to distribute reduced rations in April and May. For August, we do not have the funds to provide the 1,500 ouguiya cash component each refugee is supposed to receive,” said the World Food Programme’s Country Representative, Janne Suvanto.
The Forgotten War
In January 2012, several militant groups began a campaign against the Malian government for full autonomy of Northern Mali, which is largely occupied by the Tuareg people.
Two months later, President Amadou Toumani Toure was ousted in a coup, and a group calling itself the National Committee for Restoration of Democracy and State (CNRDR) took over the country, suspending the Malian Constitution.
During the subsequent instability, Mali’s three main cities – Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu – were overrun by rebels, who went ahead to impose Sharia law on the northern region of Mali.
With the government’s blessings, French troops were deployed in the area and in 2013, they began their operations against the Islamists. By February the same year, the rebels had been forced out of their territories.
However, the war between the Malian military and the Islamic militants still continues.