The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution Dec. 20 authorizing an African-led intervention in Mali. The mandate is to ensure political stability and help restore territorial integrity in a country divided when foreign fighters seized control over northern Mali.
Residents in the area who've fled Timbuktu in the rebel-held north told the United Nations' humanitarian news agency IRIN they were frustrated with the level of inaction on the ground in the country.
"I believe that if the government was doing more to help the displaced that would calm down the anger," Moussa Cisse, director of local aid ground Foundation Orange, told IRIN. "But the non-governmental organizations are helping the displaced more than the authorities in Bamako."
The Security Council said it had worked with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States to develop the new military force. Human Rights Watch, however, warned that the government in Bamako needs to address rampant abuses or risk jeopardizing the country's political future.
Al-Qaida and foreign rebels seized control over northern Mali in early 2011 following a series of political upheavals in the country.