Published: 11:57 GMT Daylight Time - Monday 23 April 2012
Christians driven out of northern Mali by Islamist rebels
Country/Region: Mali, Africa, Middle East and North Africa
Families in urgent need of food and essentials
Christian families from northern Mali fled to the south to escape the violence
Christians in Mali are in desperate need of aid after being forced to flee their homes when Islamists rampaged through the north as part of a violent rebel takeover.
Ethnic Tuareg rebels, including Islamist movement Ansar Dine and a separatist group, seized control of northern Mali following a military coup that overthrew the government on 22 March. Boko Haram, the Islamist group that is waging war against Christians in Nigeria, have also been involved in the fighting.
A Barnabas Aid contact in Mali said:
Horrible crimes have been made against the population: massacres, rape of women, obligation to wear the veil, chasing Christians. All the churches were destroyed in Gao and Timbuktu. All the believers had to flee towards the south, leaving their homes and giving up all their goods.
The heavily armed rebels ransacked and looted homes, vandalised churches and occupied a Bible school in Gao. Ansar Dine, which has links to al-Qaeda and wants to turn Mali into an Islamic state, is imposing sharia law on the region.
More than 215,000 people have been displaced from their homes, many of them crossing into Burkina Faso and Mauritania. Many Christians went to the capital, Bamako; an association of missions and churches has set up a crisis committee to help the refugees who are in urgent need of food, clothes and other essential supplies.
Their plight is compounded by severe food shortages in the Sahel, of which Mali is a part, that have caused prices of basic foodstuffs to double, and even treble in some areas. UN agencies and NGOs have expressed deep concern that the rebel takeover of northern Mali could further exacerbate the food crisis.
Barnabas Aid is providing corn and rice for around 100 Christian families for three months. We are also supplying medicines for children and traumatised women, and covering housing costs for some families.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid, said:
Our brothers and sisters in Mali are in a desperate plight. Forced to flee their homes to save their lives amid a violent Islamist takeover that includes the specific targeting of Christians, they are distressed and in great need. The Church in Mali is rallying to help, but in the midst of a grave food crisis, resources are limited and expensive. They therefore need practical support from Christians overseas. Please help us to meet this urgent call today.
If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote project reference Aid for victims of anti-Christian violence in Mali Fund (34-1057).
For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) text Barnabas/1057 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).
- That the interim president, Dioncounda Traore, sworn in on 12 April, will be able to restore order in Mali and end the rebellion in the north.
- For all those who have been forced to leave their homes as a result of the rebel takeover; pray that they will find refuge, and receive the food and other essentials that they need.
- For churches in the south as they seek to help their brothers and sisters from the north; pray that the Lord will strengthen them and give them all the resources they need.