Mali

Timbuktu Yet To Recover From Islamist Occupation

Civil service can't return to work, no gas stations

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Five months after French troops liberated Timbuktu from Islamist fighters, the ancient desert town, like much of northern Mali, is struggling to recover from the effects of the nine-month occupation as well as longer-term security and development problems.

Few of the things a city needs in order to function – electricity, fuel, banks, marketplaces, and basic government services such as the town hall or judiciary – are fully up and running.

There are other, less visible but equally pernicious problems, including a breakdown in the fabric of a citizenry long-famed, thanks to Timbuktu's location at the crossroads of the Sahara, for its cosmopolitan mix of cultures and ethnicities. Mali also contends with a chronic regional food security crisis that leaves millions of people teetering on the edge of catastrophe every time the rains fail.