Malkit Shoshan travelled to Camp Castor, a UN base near the Malian city of Gao. Shoshan shares a short report of her journey.
“We landed in Bamako on 13 March 2016. We stepped out of the Air France plane into the African heat pervaded by a strong smell of firewood.
We were met At Bamako-Sénou International Airport by three Dutch soldiers stationed at Midgard, a UN transit camp operated by the Swedish and Dutch contingencies.
The soldiers wore Dutch military uniforms with a light desert pattern and high-vis waistcoats with the letters MOVCON (Movement Control). We were under their supervision from the moment we stepped off the plane. They cleared the way for our smooth passage through the airport.
After collecting our bags, we were escorted to a white UN van. A local Malian driver greeted us in French and carefully stacked our bags in the back of the van.
We started driving. The roads were in reasonable shape. The local landscape was hidden in the darkness of the night. It was hard to see anything beyond the van’s beaming headlights.
Midgard is a relatively small transit camp. It is located very close to the airport, but it took us fifteen minutes to get there. Apparently, the direct road to the camp was closed off and guarded by the Malian army.
Every roadblock, fence or checkpoint is considered a security hazard. We had to take a detour.
On our way, the MOVCON guys pointed out their local landmarks: the super-camp, the Malian and Bangladeshi bases.
These spaces were easy to identify: they were enclosed with barbed wire. One bubble after the other. Together they delineated our route. Checkpoints, camps, guard posts, and fences. Secured corridors for international movement. All installed in the past two years in Mali.”