August 30, 2012.
In the Northern part of the African nation of Mali, a refugee crisis is quickly escalating. The front page of the Vatican newspaper expressed concern over the gravity of the situation. It noted that many of the refugees were Christians that were trying to escape persecution from a version of Sharia law that has been imposed in parts of the country by a group known as the “Ansar Dine” movement.
The Algerian newspaper El Khabar has reported that some 200,000 people have fled to refugee camps in Mauritania and Algeria.
In August, the UN Secretary-General has also spoken out and encouraged the Security Council to consider taking more action such as travel and financial sanctions against those responsible for the violence.
United Nations Secretary-General
August 8, 2012
“I am also extremely concerned about reports that armed groups in the north are committing serious human rights violations, including summary executions of civilians, rapes and torture.”
The “Ansar Dine” group, which is said to have ties with al-Qaida, has also been responsible for destroying nine of the 16 mausoleums in the country's capital of Timbuktu. These places had previously been classified as world heritage UNESCO sites.
The country's High Islamic Council has opened talks with “Ansar Dine” in hopes of finding a peaceful resolution. In the meantime, thousands continue to flee and face shortages of food, water and basic health services.