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France says will keep 1,000 troops in Mali post-2013


French President Francois Hollande says the country will keep at least 1,000 troops in the war-ravaged West African country of Mali beyond 2013.

“At the end of the year, there will only be 1,000 troops,” Hollande said in a televised interview on Thursday.

He added that France would begin withdrawing its troops at the end of April and they would be halved to 2,000 by July.

On January 11, France launched a war in Mali under the pretext of halting the advance of fighters who had taken control of the north of the West African country. The United States, Canada, Britain, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark aided the move.

The French-led war in Mali has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in the northern areas of the country and has displaced thousands of people, who now live in deplorable conditions.

The people of northern Mali say the French-led war and the ruling junta are blocking the flow of humanitarian assistance to the war-affected areas.

The northern Malians say the blockade of the area by French and Malian troops has undermined the activities of healthcare workers in several refugee camps. Most of the camps have dire shortages of necessities such as food and medicine.

On February 1, Amnesty International said “serious human rights breaches” – including the killing of children – were occurring during the French war in Mali.

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