Mali militants block schooling for 2,000 children

A picture take on October 30, 2018 shows Burkinabe gendarmes sitting on their vehicle in the city of Ouhigouya in the north of the country. (AFP)
Updated 06 November 2018

Mali militants block schooling for 2,000 children

  • Mali is struggling with a militant insurgency that began with an uprising by Tuareg separatists in the north of the country in 2012

BAMAKO: Nearly 2,000 children in Mali have stopped going to school after suspected Islamists warned they would only allow religious education, teachers and local officials said Tuesday.
“Armed jihadists arrived in our village last week by motorcycle,” said a teacher in the village of Toubakoro, about 140 kilometers (85 miles) northeast of the capital Bamako.
“They told everyone to gather in a mosque. They told us to close all schools where French is taught, and to teach only the Qur’an instead,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They threatened to punish anyone who broke the new rule.”
Mali is struggling with a militant insurgency that began with an uprising by Tuareg separatists in the north of the country in 2012.
The extremists were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.
But large stretches of Mali remain out of the control of Malian, French and UN forces, which are frequent targets of attacks.
Violence began to spread out of the north three years ago, reviving tensions among ethnic groups in the center of the country.
Concurring sources said the group behind the threats at Toubakaro claims affiliation to a radical preacher from the Fulani ethnic group named Amadou Koufa.
The men made similar threats last week in the nearby villages of Dandougou, Balala and Ngounado, they said.
“More than 20 schools have been closed in five locations — almost 2,000 children are not going to school at the moment,” said local official Aboubacar Ndiaye, who said he had fled to Bamako “as a precaution.”
In his latest quarterly report on Mali, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that 1,108 schools had had to close “at least once” — defined as a closure of at least 20 days in one stretch — during the 2017-18 school year. Closures affected a total of 332,400 children.
Security Minister Salif Traore said on Tuesday that a “wide-scale” military operation to tackle threats against schools had begun on Saturday, and “suspects” had been arrested.


UK to reopen thousands of shops in easing of coronavirus lockdown, says Boris Johnson

Updated 25 May 2020

UK to reopen thousands of shops in easing of coronavirus lockdown, says Boris Johnson

  • From June 1, outdoor markets and car showrooms could be reopened
  • Johnson is keen to restart an economy which has been all but shut down since Britain entered a lockdown

LONDON: Britain will reopen thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centers next month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, setting out a timetable for businesses as part of moves to ease the coronavirus lockdown.
He told a news conference that from June 1, outdoor markets and car showrooms could be reopened as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines, and all other non-essential retail from June 15 if the government’s tests are met.
Johnson is keen to restart an economy which has been all but shut down since Britain entered a lockdown to try to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, but also fears a second peak of infection if measures are eased too quickly.

-----

READ MORE: Aide to British PM Dominic Cummings says he doesn’t regret COVID-19 lockdown trip

-----

“Today, I want to give the retail sector notice of our intentions to reopen shops, so they too can get ready,” Johnson said. “There are careful but deliberate steps on the road to rebuilding our country.”
The government said shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, would be expected to be able to reopen from June 15, giving them three weeks to prepare.
It said that businesses would only be able to open from those dates once they had completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks.
“The high street sits at the heart of every community in the country,” Business minister Alok Sharma said in a statement.
“Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy, and will support millions of jobs across the UK.”