The French military intervention in Mali since mid-January and much of the official discussion of Mali in the UN and among Western governments seem to have been driven by a quite narrow and short-term view of the issues the country faces. As in anything, if the problem is mis-diagnosed, the solution will probably mis-fire.
Mali, along with several of its neighbouring countries in the Sahel region of West Africa, remains in a state of crisis. The rebel threat has not gone away, despite their withdrawal from strategic towns, and the recent fighting has increased tensions between different ethnic groups, some of whom have been associated with the rebels' cause.
In Mali, where Plan International is working, there are numerous cases of how children are haunted by the mere sound of military vehicles. Marita is one such child. The first time anyone knew that she was suffering the after-effects of the conflict in northern Mali was when an ambulance passed by. She suddenly screamed, dashed across the yard into her house and hid in a corner shaking...
The military cooperation agreements announced last month with Algeria and Libya are part of UK 'energy diplomacy' aimed at securing access to strategic resources in North Africa. Both countries are identified in the UK Energy Security Strategy as producers of gas and oil which are important trading partners and hence countries which are important to the UK's energy security.
On average a man, women or child dies every minute as a result of armed violence.Two thirds die in countries that are not officially in conflict. Violence fuelled by illegal arms diverts resources away from schools, healthcare and critical infrastructure. It undermines sustainable development, eats away at stability and robs millions of their future.