08/14/2019 Cameroon (International Christian Concern) – Mali has been a hotbed for violence and extremism for many years now. In 2012, extremists and separatists were able to seize control of much of Northern Mali. The extremists among this group wanted to create a caliphate following strict Sharia law. The separatists, mainly Tuareg, wanted to create an autonomous state. Ever since this time, the central Malian government has been trying to take back control of their lands and people. They have had the aid of the French military and other outside forces, yet have not been able to seize control.
Due to this fighting and extremist ideals in Northern Mali, it has become a breeding ground for jihadist groups that then spread throughout Mali and the rest of West Africa. The jihadists and other militant groups have turned to exploiting and targeting children in the campaigns. According to the UN, more than 150 children have been killed this year alone. Another 75 children have been hurt during these attacks. Also, there are currently twice as many children being forced into militant groups and fighting in 2019 when compared with 2018. Finally, over 900 school in Mali remained closed due to the high level of violence and insecurity.
All of this leads to more violence in the future, as well as devastates the children that are affected by it. Without schools, many children are forced away from education of any type. This makes them much more susceptible to extremist’s ideologies and groups. It also means that many of these children will be emotionally mentally and spiritually scarred for the rest of their lives. These groups are already having a devastating effect on Christian communities outside Mali, in countries like Niger and Burkina Faso. The world must help end this fighting, protect these children, and ensure that West Africa does not have a bloody and terror filled future.
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