Mali Conflict: Children in the crossfire
17 January 2013
Ahmed: A long way from home
In the middle of an overcrowded compound, Ahmed Djitey, 9, is adjusting to yet another life. In less than a year, he's had to move twice from his home in Timbuktu in northern Mali, first to Mopti and now to Ségou. Despite this, Ahmed has high hopes for the future.
As the news of an immediate attack against Mopti spread across Mali, Ahmed and his father Ali knew they had to run for their lives yet again. They boarded the first bus from Mopti and made a six hour journey to Ségou, in central Mali.
"En route, I could hear gunshots. I didn’t see the troops or the action but I was so scared. I am glad we made it to a safer place," Ahmed said.
Since the beginning of the year, clashes between armed insurgents, the national army and international forces around the Mopti region have forced thousands to flee. Many have fled to Ségou, which is now hosting more than 19,000 internally displaced people, mostly women and children.
Unlike other displaced children, Ahmed did not arrive in Ségou with his mother, Habibatou. She remains in Timbuktu which is about 1000km away and has been under the control of armed insurgents since April last year.
Ahmed misses her and his siblings who are still with her.
"When I was still in Timbuktu, I use to play a lot with my brothers, my cousins and my friends. We played football all the time. That was really fun. I miss them all now."
Ahmed was separated from his mother, brother and sisters in October, when his father took him to Mopti so that he could continue his schooling. His parents felt they had no alternative because the armed insurgents in Timbuktu closed all the schools.
In Ségou, Ahmed has been reunited with many of his friends from Timbuktu. He is also participating in Plan's education in emergencies program, which has allowed thousands of displaced children in Ségou to continue their schooling. Since the beginning of the school year, Plan has distributed more than one thousand school kits to schools and is holding weekly catch-up classes to help children keep up with their school work.
Ahmed aspires to be a teacher when he grows up. To achieve his dream, he will need to complete his education. Plan's programs are allowing this to happen for the moment – but Ahmed's future and return to Timbuktu are uncertain.
Help provide emergency relief to children and families affected by this crisis by donating to our Children in Crisis fund.