ABC has supported children in Timbuktu Mali for several years. This has been under the leadership of ABC UK. Here is a letter that John Beynon sent out regarding the situation:

I have just had a long conversation again with Timothy Yatarra (Tim from Timbuktu) and his father, Pastor Bouya who is the co-ordinator for ABC Children's Aid in Timbuktu. They told me that all the Christians have fled Timbuktu, both those from the Pentecostal church and also from the Baptist church, in fear for their lives. Tim said that this morning (Wed. 18th) he had been talking to a friend by phone to Timbuktu and that a crowd of people were trying to destroy the Baptist church, and he thought that some may have tried to destroy their compound(church and house), although he wasn’t sure of the details. The school that ABC Children’s Aid was supporting is also closed. All the teachers have fled, and the buildings are currently empty. There is now Sharia Law in force in Timbuktu, with the women forced to wear veils in public. Probably girls will no longer be allowed to go to school.

What is clear is that Tim and his family (our ABC leaders in Mali) are safe in Bamako, the capital city of Mali. They are refugees, though currently staying with relatives. We are helping to finance temporary housing for them there.

It is not clear as yet what has happened to the children that you are supporting. I am in the process of trying to get detailed information about each individual child, where they are and what their situation is. I will let you know as soon as I get any definite information, and expect to have information within the next couple of weeks.

Over the next few months the situation on the ground in Timbuktu could change dramatically for better or for worse. Currently, the political situation is that there will be elections for a new president of Mali within the next 40 days. Depending who is elected, there will probably be some military effort to regain control of the north. This may be a serious attempt to re-take the towns or it may just be a token effort. It is very hard to know if the government will ever regain control of these desert towns again. Given that the area is so remote and, in monetary terms, is of very little value to most of the population (it’ just mainly an empty desert), and also considering that the rebels are so well armed and are skilled fighters, it is difficult to know how much motivation the new government will have to fight and win a costly war.

At the moment, it is impossible to say what will happen next for your child; We are currently saving the money that you are giving for your child sponsorship until we see how the situation on the ground develops.

A government vehicle that was seized in the take over just near the ABC offices in Timbuktu