The men brought with them terror as towns and cities fell to them. They tortured, killed and raped as they moved south. Those who could fled, going further south or pouring across borders looking for safety.
After a year of fighting in which the government was brought down by a military coup, over 380,000 people had been uprooted. It was then that France, the former colonial power of Mali, sent its planes and soldiers to drive back the rebels to where they came from.
Mali is one of the world’s poorest countries. Communities were already fighting the effects of a devastating food crisis when war took hold of their country.
Caritas has been investing in the development of Mali so that communities have access to water, improved agricultural techniques to grow their own food, education and health. But now it is focused on an emergency.
People who leave their homes because of unrest, also leave their fields their schools, their chance of a stable life. War is the enemy of development, and even though rebel forces are being driven back and people can start to go home to their communities, the battle will continue.