Top of the Morning: France to Intervene in Mali; Sectarian Bombings Across Pakistan;

Top stories from the Development and Aid World News Service — DAWNS Digest.

France to Intervene as Mali Rebels Make Big Gains

Ansar Dine is expanding its grip southward, and the Malian government can’t put up much of a fight. The government has asked France to urgently come to its aid. “French President Francois Hollande said Friday France will respond to Mali’s request for military assistance to counter rebel groups’ offensive, but within the framework of a UN Security Council resolution. ‘I have decided that France will respond, together with our African partners, to the request from Malian authorities. We will do it strictly within the framework of a UN Security Council resolution,” the French head of state said while addressing the New Year message to diplomats in Paris. ‘We are faced with a blatant aggression that is threatening Mali’s very existence. France can not accept this,” said Hollande, noting that France will be “ready to stop the terrorists’ offensive if it continues.’ Hollande’s remarks came after Malian President Dioncounda Traore made a request, in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and a letter to Hollande, seeking for military aid from France countering the military movements and attacks by extremist groups.” (Xinhua

Over 100 Dead in Ethnic Tinged Pakistan Bombings

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group with strong ties to the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack targeting Hazara Shiites. “Bomb blasts in two Pakistani cities killed at least 115 people on Thursday and wounded more than 270, offering harrowing evidence of how the country’s myriad internal conflicts could destabilize it as elections approach. The worst violence occurred in the southwestern city of Quetta, where two explosions a few minutes apart in the evening ripped through a snooker hall in a neighborhood dominated by ethnic Hazara Shiites, killing at least 81 people and wounding more than 170, the police said…An ethnic Baluch separatist group claimed responsibility for another bombing earlier on Thursday, aimed at paramilitary soldiers in a commercial part of Quetta, which killed 12 people. (NYT

Up to 2 Billion Tons of Food Wasted Each Year

A new report on an under-appreciated phenomenon. Up to half of all the food produced worldwide ends up going to waste due to poor harvesting, storage and transport methods as well as irresponsible retailer and consumer behaviour, a report said on Thursday. The world produces about four billion metric tonnes of food a year but 1.2 to 2 billion tonnes is not eaten, the study by the London-based Institution of Mechanical Engineers said. ‘This level of wastage is a tragedy that cannot continue if we are to succeed in the challenge of sustainably meeting our future food demands,’ said.” (AlertNet

UK To Support Controversial Ethiopian Military Program

The Guardian has the scoop. “Millions of pounds of Britain’s foreign aid budget are to be spent on training an Ethiopian paramilitary security force that stands accused of numerous human rights abuses and summary executions. The Guardian has seen an internal Department for International Development document forming part of a tender to train security forces in the Somali region of Ogaden, which lies within Ethiopia, as part of a five-year £13m–15m “peace-building” programme. The document notes the “reputational risks of working alongside actors frequently cited in human rights violation allegations”. DfID insists that the training will be managed by NGOs and private companies with the goal of improving security, professionalism and accountability of the force, but Human Rights Watch has documented countless allegations of human rights abuses.” (Guardian