10/04/2023 Mali (International Christian Concern) — Mali faces worse conditions as forces from the United Nations continue their departure from the country. Terrorist groups including affiliates from al-Qaida, the Islamic State, and jihadists run rampant in the military-junta-run country.
Since the U.N. started pulling its troops in July, “Islamic militants in Mali have created a blockade of Timbuktu by cutting road access and shutting off river and air routes” and shooting rockets which “hit a hospital, killing two children, and landed near a school where survivors of a passenger boat attack that killed more than 100 people were sheltering,” according to Reuters.
Mali is currently run by a junta that has refused and protested the support of U.N. and French forces, effectively driving them out of the country. The junta does receive support, however, from Russia’s Wagner Group which, despite sending 1,000 mercenaries to aid the junta, has failed to control the conflict and is accused of attacking civilians.
According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, “More than 650 people have died in conflict in Mali in the two months after the U.N. began pulling out, a more than 40% rise over the previous two months.”
With so many violent actors and continually shrinking official forces, Mali, alongside many other countries in its region, struggle to keep any semblance of control. Timbuktu is currently under siege, with supplies being blocked, leading to soaring prices for entire communities. Reuters reports, “Traders in the city (Timbuktu) say sugar is up 25%, while charcoal for cooking potatoes and onions are up 30%.”
These prices and constant fear of violence make the quality of life in Mali significantly worse. Mali has also become a nearly impossible place to live for Christians. Making up less than 5 percent of the country’s total population, Christians are an extreme minority. With multiple Islamic extremist groups active and thriving, it is difficult to imagine what the daily life of a Christian in Mali looks like.
Leaders are concerned for the safety of all civilians in the country, let alone Christians. Ulf Laessing, the Bamako-based head of the Sahel program at the Konrad Adenauer foundation said, “This conflict is escalating fast. There is a risk of civil war.”
We invite you to pray for stability in Mali, for those who fear violence at their doorstep every morning, and for our brothers and sisters in Christ facing seemingly impossible circumstances.