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Mali PM promises education, training for restive north

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Malian Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga (R) shakes hands with Mahamat Annadif Saleh, the head of the MINUSMA (the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) during a visit of the Malian delegation in Kidal, northern Mali, on March 23, 2018.<br />Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga made a landmark visit to the restive northern town of Kidal on March 23, 2018, the first since 2014 by a head of government to an area still in the hands of former rebels. / AFP PHOTO / MINUSMA / Harandane DICKO

Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga announced measures to address an education crisis in the restive north on Saturday on his first visit to the area.

Maiga is charged with improving Mali’s security situation but also raising living standards in the north and centre, where jihadists have gained a foothold in communities for whom state services are near absent.

“I will authorise mayors to take on volunteers where there are no teachers. They will be paid 50,000 FCFA ($94) a month,” he said to applause during a meeting with residents in the troubled city of Gao.

Insecurity driven by warring armed groups and an Al-Qaeda-led insurgency is keeping more than 150,000 children out of school and shut more than 500 establishments in 2017, according to Amnesty International.

Maiga also promised school canteens so that poor children would be able to attend classes, and promised training for 900 young people in Gao and nearby Menaka.

The state would also construct a road between the airport and Gao city centre, he added.

Jihadists mount near-weekly attacks on security forces in Mali, where many wonder how voters’ safety can be guaranteed ahead of the presidential election in July .

Around 4,000 French troops are deployed there as part of Operation Barkhane alongside the UN’s 12,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali to tackle the slamists, who piggybacked on the 2012 separatist rebellion by minority Tuaregs.

Maiga on Tuesday said he would visit “without arrogance, in order to listen, and understand the urgent needs of the population” in northern Mali.

He is also due to visit Timbuktu, an ancient city also rocked by periodic unrest.


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