Top of the Morning: France Steps Up Mali Campaign; Sexual Violence in Syria; Displacement in Darfur

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

Mali: As France Steps Up Bombardment, Rebels Capture Key Town; ECOWAS Military Chiefs Meet

An early indication that the intervention may not go as smoothly as planned when rebels captured a key town yesterday. “France hit Islamist rebels in Mali with fresh air strikes and deployed armoured cars on Tuesday, stepping up its intervention in the West African state as regional allies struggled to accelerate their plans to send in troops…West African defence chiefs were meeting in the Malian capital Bamako on Tuesday to approve plans for speeding up the deployment of 3,300 regional troops, foreseen in a United Nation-backed intervention plan to be led by Africans. France sent its forces into Mali last week to block a surprise southwards push by the rebels.” (Reuters

Sexual Violence is Cause for Women Fleeing Syria, says IRC

Syrian women and girls said that sexual violence drove them to flee from the country, says a new report from the International Rescue Committee. “‘The stories we’ve heard, talking to Syrian women, are truly horrific,’ said Sanj Srikanthan, IRC-UK emergency field director. ‘Many of these women have experienced rape and torture in Syria, but as refugees [they] can’t find the support they need to heal their physical and emotional scars – let alone provide food and shelter for their families.’ During interviews with 240 Syrian women and girls in Lebanon and Jordan, IRC learned of attacks involving kidnap, rape, torture and murder, with Syria’s many roadblocks a particular danger.” (Guardian

100,000 Displaced by Tribal Clashes in Darfur

A humanitarian disaster in the making. “More than 100.000 displaced families have arrived in the capital of al-Sref Beni Hussein locality, North Darfur, following clashes between the Arab tribes of Abbala and Beni Hussein that began one week ago at the gold mining area of Jebel ‘Amer….The commissioner pointed out that some of them are living in schools, in government buildings, at the locality’s headquarters, or in homes of residents of al-Sref Beni Hussein city. However, he continued, many others are living under trees or completely out in the open, without any food or water.” (Radio Dbanga