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ICRC eyeing civilian plight in Mali

Jan. 21, 2013 at 12:22 PM

BAMAKO, Mali, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was monitoring the situation for Malian civilians as multilateral conflict enters its second week.

The government of France, the former colonial power, agreed Jan. 11 to a Malian request to put personnel in the country to help halt the advance of Islamic militants from northern Mali.

The Malian government lost control of north regions of the country following a coup in early 2012. Jean-Nicolas Marti, head of a regional delegation from the ICRC, said there are concerns about the civilian population as the military conflict grows.

"Our priority is to help those who've been displaced or wounded," he said in a statement. "We'll also be closely monitoring the welfare of the civilian population and striving to ensure that wounded and captured people are spared."

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said last weekend the Kremlin said it was considering logistical support for French operations in Mali, state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports. The British military, in a statement Monday, said its transport aircraft were at an air base near Paris loading armored vehicles and other military equipment for the Malian conflict.

Western allies have agreed to support the French mission, though most avoided a military role in the conflict. The Economic Community of West African States said it urged member states to make troops available for an African intervention to help ensure the territorial integrity of Mali.

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