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Reconstruction and Reconciliation Begins in Mali

February 13, 2013 by Open Doors in General

Reconstruction and Reconciliation Begins in Mali

The liberation of the main cities of Northern Mali has created a great sense of relief and joy in the country, but the task of reconstruction and reconciliation looms large on the horizon.

Over the years, Christians, including foreign Christian missionaries, had enjoyed widespread freedoms in Malian society, even in the North. The situation dramatically changed with the 2012 takeover of the northern part of the country by Tuareg separatist rebels and Islamist fighters. The insurgents soon established an Islamic state in the North, instating a strict regime of Sharia, or Islamic law. They attacked and destroyed churches and other Christian buildings in Timbuktu and Gao in an attempt to eradicate all traces of Christianity in the region. The rebels also treated less fundamentalist Muslims cruelly, killing people, amputating limbs, and destroying Sufi Muslim sanctuaries.
 
The harsh conditions prompted thousands to flee. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, more than 250,000 Malians are living in neighboring countries like Niger, Burkina Faso or Mauritania, and about 200,000 others have fled to Bamako. The rapid Islamist takeover of the North pushed Mali into the No. 7 position on the 2013 World Watch List, a ranking of the 50 countries in which conditions for Christians are most oppressive. Mali had never before been included on the list.

A month after the French offensive, a joint force of Malian and African troops have regained control of the main cities in the North which were previously occupied by Islamist rebels. The French-led operation began on January 11 following an attempt by Islamist militants to push further into south Mali. “The whole of Mali was in turmoil when we learned the progress of Islamists to the South,” Mohamed-Ibrahim Yattara, a church leader in Bamako, told World Watch Monitor.

Despite regaining freedom, Malian people face new challenges created by the Islamic takeover. Northern Mali needs extensive reconstruction in the wake of nine months of occupation. A number of public buildings were destroyed, including schools, health clinics, ancient monuments, hotels, and restaurants.

Father, we praise You for the release of the people of Mali from Islamist militants. We know You continue to look down and see their needs, and we pray for them as they begin the process of rebuilding their country’s infrastructure. As they rebuild, we pray they will find ways to continue meeting needs of education and health care. We pray for Your church to be a leader in the process of reconciliation, and that the light of Your gospel will shine forth. In the name of Jesus who empowers and builds His church, Amen.

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