BAMAKO, MALI — In Mali and throughout West Africa, the school year started a few weeks ago. However, aid workers say the vast majority of children in the militant-controlled northern region are not able to go school — which may help recruitment for local armed groups.
The education ministry and international aid agencies say they are scrambling to meet the needs of children affected by the conflict. The region fell to al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants in April.
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says at least 450,000 northerners have fled into neighboring countries or into the government-held south since the start of the year. Those who remain in the north are living under the strict rule of the militants.
“Information is coming out in bits and pieces, but we still don’t have the full scope of understanding of what’s going on for education in the north,” explained Tom Mccormack, the Sahel Regional Director for aid group Save the Children USA. “But we’re very concerned that education is not being provided as it should for all children. In addition, we’re concerned that funds that need to be made available to assist children, particularly those who have been displaced by the fighting, have not been made available, especially for education in this emergency response that we and other actors on the ground here are trying to respond to.”
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