The Barkhane Force continues its patrols in the desert to meet the population. An abandoned people who lack food, medicine and infrastructure.
While France began to withdraw troops from Mali on October 12, the soldiers of the 3rd Marine Infantry Regiment are still roaming the desert, between Bata and Gaïna (north of Gao).
This region of northern Mali is a dangerous crossroads, through which armed groups pass, returning to Gao to stock up on weapons and vehicles.
On the spot, the local populations know of looting. All the more so as the price of basic products (flour, food for children, bread) has exploded in one year, and prevents communities from getting adequate supplies.
Mother of four children, Kaïla, a resident of the castle district in Gao, says that “all products are expensive because of the war”. “We know a great lack of food”.
Same story for the director of a school, which includes more than a hundred young children. He explains that he finds himself without “roof, chairs and tables” to continue teaching in good conditions.
Young high school students interviewed in Gao denounce the comings and goings of terrorists. They “pass in their pick-ups at night” to come and steal “motorcycles, telephones, weapons.” Some can even kill, ”says a teenage girl.
Lieutenant Geoffroy wants to be clear, even if France withdraws from Operation Barkhane, the soldiers present on the spot are still “with the Malian people”, at a time when the French military command, has already announced to put more commandos in place, in order to hunt down terrorists in the desert.