Top of the Morning: Stage Set for Mali Intervention; Polio in Nigeria

Top stories from DAWNS Digest

Mali Makes Formal Request for Military Intervention

Mali’s government is requesting military assistance from ECOWAS to intevene in the conflict in the north. This is a very big deal because now ECOWAS may be fighting directly against the Tuareg rebels and various Islamist rebel groups. “Mali’s interim leader has made a formal request to west African regional body ECOWAS for military assistance to help free the country’s north, which has been occupied since April by Islamists, France’s special representative for the Sahel said on Tuesday. Jean Felix-Paganon said he was informed of the decision during a meeting with Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, who chairs the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). ‘President Ouattara informed us that President (Dioncounda) Traore had formally sent a request to ECOWAS for military assistance to stabilise the country and especially to the reconquer the north,’ Felix-Paganon told journalists in neighbouring Burkina Faso. ‘It is an important development which we examined the possible outcomes with President (Blaise) Compaore,’ Felix-Paganon said after meeting with Burkina Faso’s president in Ouagadougou late on Tuesday.” (AlertNet

Polio on the Rise in Nigeria

Polio is on the retreat globally, but in one of the remaining three endemic countries it is starting to forcefully re-emerge“. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative says Nigeria has 77 new cases of polio this year so far – a near 25 percent increase compared to all of last year. And that’s more than any other single country. There is no cure for polio, but the disease can be prevented with a vaccine and it has been wiped out in most of the world. If a person is infected with polio, it can lead to paralysis, disfigurement or death. On the streets in Nigeria, survivors can be seen begging. With useless legs they sit on boards with wheels. They have to reach up to passersbys to ask for a little money. John Campbell, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, says the vaccine is available in northern Nigeria, where most of the victims are found, but families often refuse it. He says many think it is a plot against Muslims devised by southern Christians and the West. ‘A team administering the polio vaccine might work a street,’ said Campbell. “When the local residents hear the team is coming, they start handing particularly their male babies out over the back fence so they are not there when the polio workers arrive.’ He says this mistrust has been aggravated by Western pharmaceutical companies in the past, whose misdeeds have caused northern governors to shut down vaccine programs from time to time. (VOA