Military intervention by foreign powers in Mali is “probable,” France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday, to end unrest in the West African nation where al-Qaeda-linked militants control significant territory.
“At one moment or another there will probably be the use of force,” Fabius said, noting that intervention would be African-led but supported by international forces, according to Reuters.
Regional and Western governments have compared the situation in Mali to Afghanistan, as a mix of local and foreign Islamists, including al-Qaeda-linked fighters, have hijacked a rebellion initially launched in January by secular Tuareg separatist rebels.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama has authorized $10 million in emergency funds for people displaced by the conflict in northern Mali, the White House said Thursday.
The funds will support efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.
Already, almost 230,000 Malian refugees have fled to Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger, while an additional 155,000 Malians are internally displaced, he said in the statement.
“The United States is deeply concerned about the situation of the Malian people,” Vietor said. “We call on all parties to support the restoration of democratically elected civilian governance in Mali as soon as possible.”
Vietor also called on rebels in northern Mali to renounce any connection with terrorist groups and enter into legitimate political negotiations.
“In addition, we urge all parties to ensure neutral, impartial, and unhindered humanitarian access to all populations in northern Mali,” he said.