Mali's Christians suffer in post-coup unrest
EMERGENCY FUND UPDATE About 180 believers have fled Mali’s northern cities to the relative safety of Bamako. They have found temporary shelter at a Christian guesthouse and rented facility. However, they are in urgent need of food.
These families had to evacuate their homes quickly and with very few provisions. The Christians in Bamako have welcomed their brothers and sisters in Christ with open arms, but many of them are living in poverty themselves and their resources are limited.
If you have not already given a gift, would you consider doing so today? We are asking our supporters to consider giving a gift of £13.50 to provide food for one person for one week. Thank you for your prayers and concern!
To help homeless Christians in Mali now, scroll to end of page
Crisis in Mali:
The word from our partners
Pastor Nouh Ag Infa Yattara, leader of our partner ministry TNT, estimates that 90% of all Christians in Timbuktu have had to flee from their homes. Some are still in hiding in the city.
They all need our prayers and help. Malian Christians have been forced from their homes by a violent uprising against the government, which has rapidly advanced across the country. This insurgency has caused enormous bloodshed and suffering.
As it has progressed the rebel movement has been taken over by militant Islamists for whom Mali's Christians are a special target.
Gao ministry leader describes journey to safety in Bamako
Background to crisis:
What has happened in Mali?
Mali is an ethnically-divided country, with large parts of the north being populated by Tuareg desert nomads. The Tuareg have often been at odds with the government which is dominated by southern peoples.
Recently large numbers of Tuareg returned to Mali from Libya. for some years they had been part of Colonel Qadaffi's unofficial security forces keeping that brutal regime in power. They have been well-trained and well-armed, and returned to Mali because the fallen Qadaffi regime can no longer protect and support them.
Knowing their own armed power, they decided to seize power for themselves, to set up a desert state called Azawad.
In March 2012 Mali's President had been ousted by an Army coup, and the new regime was still very weak and fragile and in no position to resist the powerful Tuareg bands. As a result much of the north and centre of the country is now in Tuareg hands. The south, including the capital Bamako, remains in government control for now.
In the conquered areas Tuareg and other groups attracted by the chaos as widely kidnapping for ransom, and looting homes and shops, hospitals, NGO offices - anywhere where there is anything of any value.
Thousands of ordinary Malians have been robbed, raped or murdered. Amnesty International warms that Mali is "on the brink of a major humanitarian disaster.
The impact on Mali's Christians
The BBC and other news media warn that supporters of Al Qaida are flocking to Mali from all parts of Africa and the Middle East, seeing an opportunity to forward their fundamentalist Islamic agenda.
Accordingly the Tuareg rebellion has taken on a distinctly Islamist slant, and Mali's small Christian community are their chosen targets.
No reports have been received of Christians being killed, although the situation is far from clear. However, many have been intimidated into leaving their homes and possessions.
Pastor Mohammed from Gao reports: "They took everything from the pastor's house. When I went to see the house it was just heartbreaking. The church was intact, but I heard this evening that they looted the church and the guesthouse and nothing is left".
The Christian bookshop, one of the few in Mali, is also completely destroyed.
A rebel leader said that he had a list of Christians and was going from house to house to find them.
In the wider population Pastors report that rebels are rounding up men to be forced to fight for them and kidnapping large numbers of women and girls.
Radio broadcasts are insisting that women must wear veils, and that anyone wearing western dress will be arrested or killed. Sharia law is being imposed everywhere.
Please pray for your Malian brothers and sisters and pray that God will bring a swift and just end to this violence.
We are asking all readers of our E-News to give just 5 minutes each day to pray for your Christian brothers and sisters in Mali, and to encourage your churches to pray jointly for them.
For more information on our work in Mali, click here .
Emergency Fund to Help Mali's Christians
To give to our fund to help Christians in Mali, click the Donate Now button. The following help is needed right now:-
• Food for displaced families for 60 days: £23,500 (or about £400 per day to feed 180-200 people)
• Shelter rental for displaced families for 60 days: £2,350
• Emergency transportation: £1,600