Isis and al-Qaeda set to profit from Covid-19 as lockdowns and aid shortages makes Sahel communities ‘an easy target’

Violent instability in the Sahel means millions need international aid – but lockdowns are stifling the efforts of aid workers. And an economic standstill creates opportunities for jihadis, as Borzou Daragahi reports

2 days ago

Unicef is working on the ground to support coronavirus public awareness campaigns in Niamey, Niger, but lockdown means aid coverage is patchy ( Unicef )


The men with guns swarmed the girl’s village near Bankass, at Mali’s border with Burkina Faso. She watched as the fighters – likely members of one of the violent extremist groups roaming the arid region – murdered her relatives.

Twelve-year-old Hamsa escaped physical harm. But a day and a half later, when she and her haggard family arrived at the Socoura displaced persons camp in the central city of Mopti with only the clothes they were wearing, she was catatonic.

It took a month for relief workers and psychologists to coax a word out of her. “I was afraid,” she said, according to aid officials. “I was terrified. I thought I was going to get killed.”



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