A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Back again in the Netherlands. There is one image that I’ve held onto - Gisèle beaming. She was so proud when she told me how privileged she felt to have been part of a program that, despite the crisis, succeeded in monitoring the elections in Mali. People in Mali were able to observe election results and irregularities arrive in realtime at the Malivote Platform 2013. Transparency had contributed to greater electoral participation.
Gisèle Flanda works for EVA (Equipe de Veille et d’Analyse), one of our partners in Mali. In 2013 EVA trained young people in how to monitor the country’s elections. Via snowball texting young people across Mali became involved. I share Gisèle’s pride. It gives hope at a time when Mali’s development opportunities are being undermined by conflict.
— Farah Karimi (@Farah_Karimi) abril 10, 2014
Good governance must be a top priority
Good governance. I had my conviction confirmed again that work on good and legitimate governance must be a top priority for Mali. EVA’s work therefore gives hope. Unfortunately, the question in today’s Mali is whether the international community – with its huge focus on the war against terrorism – is paying enough attention to realizing good governance and the rule of law, reconciliation at the level of local communities, and anti-corruption measures.
Listen to the people
People must feel that they’re being listened to. That is what the mayors of towns near Gao made clear to me. Impressive appearances, these men have, with their huge turbans in the most beautiful blue and their worn faces, etched by desert living. They tell me that the people responsible for the fighting in the north are now returning to their communities. Everybody knows who they are. Dialogue is now needed, and those responsible for perpetrating crimes must be called to account. Reconciliation and justice were constantly recurring themes during my visit to Mali.
In Mali’s capital it is about peace negotiations between warring parties. But at the community level still too little is happening. That is why local government representatives asked me to help kick-start reconciliation processes. As Oxfam we feel duty-bound to contribute. We will keep stressing the importance of this to the Mali government and the international community. I’ve tabled it with Bert Koenders, member of the UN mission in Mali, and with the Dutch embassy in Bamako. I’m very hopeful that we can make a valuable contribution, in collaboration with the different parties, to this desperately needed process of reconciliation in Mali.
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