AFRICANGLOBE – Al Qaeda has a new refuge: the deserts of Northern Mali. As jihadists pour into the country, this report captures how harsh Islamist control has led to a food crisis and the exodus of half a million people.

Every day over 400 new Malians arrive in Mauritania as refugees: “they say that fear of having a hand amputated or being stoned to death made them come”, says a local policeman.

Around Timbuktu Al Qaeda have driven out the struggling army and are spreading a reign of terror. For the former Foreign Minister, Tiebile Drame, the situation is reaching crisis point: “The rest of the world should help, unless they would like to see another Somalia”.