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Amnesty warns of a major debacle in Mali


April 6, 2012 - New York

Amnesty International has said that Mali is on the verge of a major humanitarian disaster following a coup and rebellion in the north of the country.

Amnesty said that the three northern towns of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu have experienced days of looting, abduction and chaos, and all food supplies and medicines stored by aid agencies, have been looted, and most workers have fled. It also said that aid agencies should immediately be allowed access to the country to prevent more civilians from dying.

The BBC quoted Amnesty's West Africa researcher Gaetan Mootoo, as saying that the population of the country was at risk of severe food and medical shortages that could lead to many deaths, especially among women and children.

Amnesty also said that a number of women and girls have been abducted and even raped in the country.

The Algerian Government said that seven of its staff, including the consul and six colleagues, had been kidnapped by unknown gunmen in the northern city of Gao, which is in rebel hands, and it was making all the efforts to search them.

The BBC said the situation in the northern town of Gao was particularly tense, and people were continuing to flee the north.

International reactions have also come up on the tense situation in Mali. The UN Security Council has called for an end to the fighting in Mali. It has also backed the efforts by Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) to restore order in Mali.

The UN also voiced fear at the presence of Ansar Dine, which is linked to the al- Qaeda and wants to impose Islamic law, or Sharia, across the whole of the West African state.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has also said that it was attempting to start talks with the rebels so that it could recommence its aid operations, which had been looted in the northern town of Gao, in remote parts of the north.

Mali's borders have been closed to trade, the country's access to funds at the central bank for the region's common currency has also been frozen and travel bans have been imposed on coup leaders and their supporters.

ANI

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