Correspondent / behind the news

Jun 30 2015

Embedded in Mali

A French armoured vehicle leaves Goundam on June 3, 2015 in the Timbuktu region, northern Mali, during a joint operation with Malian army forces as part of the anti-terrorist Operation Barkhane (AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES) A French armoured vehicle leaves Goundam on June 3, 2015 in the Timbuktu region, northern Mali, during a joint operation with Malian army forces as part of the anti-terrorist Operation Barkhane (AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE DESMAZES)

(AFP Photo / Philippe Desmazes)


"The thermometer in the foyer is stuck on 50 degrees Celsius. The highest it can go," writes AFP's Michel Moutot. "It’s not yet noon on the French army base at Timbuktu airport."

"Why did AFP ask to follow a French army unit into Mali's lawless north? Two reasons. Firstly, to report on the soldiers actions on the ground. Secondly to gain access, under the protection of the army, to one of a rising number of places in the world where reporters can no longer venture alone without risk of kidnapping or death."

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Jun 26 2015

Holding on to the little things

Francis Collomp's notebook from his time in captivity (Gregoire Belhoste) Francis Collomp's notebook from his time in captivity (Gregoire Belhoste)

(Gregoire Belhoste)

"During the three months he spent as a captive in the Malian desert, Pierre Camatte had a ritual," writes Gregoire Belhoste. "Each morning he would write in the sand the number of days since he was seized, and tie another knot on a string plucked from his headscarf before burying it deep in his pocket. A notebook, a transistor radio, a piece of string: for people in a long-term hostage situation a tiny object is sometimes all that stands in the way of despair. Long after their ordeal comes to an end, many still cling on to these small things."

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