BAMAKO, Mali, June 5 (UPI) -- Women and girls affected by conflict in parts of Mali are turning to prostitution in growing numbers, members of the NGO community said.
The Malian government in January called for military support from former colonial power France to fight al-Qaida and foreign fighters who seized territory following a 2012 coup.
Kadidjatou Coulibaly, director of the Malian non-governmental organization House of Trust, told the U.N. International Regional Information Networks girls as young as 13 were turning to sex work in the wake of the coup.
She said girls and women were turning up in brothels as recently as May.
Aminata Dicko Sangare, an administrator for UNICEF in Mali, said many of the women and girls were left without traditional support systems.
"Of the 41 we registered, almost all were without their parents or without their husbands who they said had disappeared or been killed during the fighting," she was quoted as saying in a report published Wednesday.
Foreign and al-Qaida fighters in Mali are accused of crimes against humanity in Mali. A donors conference hosted by the French and European governments generated around $4 billion in pledges from the international community.
Mali is expected to hold elections next month.