Orphans of the Sahara documented on Al Jazeera


Orphans of the Sahara is a documentary series about the heartbreaking
circumstances of life for the Sahara’s Tuareg people, one of the most isolated
and impoverished groups in the world.

May Welsh, award-winning Al Jazeera filmmaker, captures the complex conflict
and events in Mali and Niger as they unfold within the Tuareg community.

Due to the presence of al-Qaeda, these desert people have been cut off from
aid workers and the rest of the outside world. Welsh’s three films offer viewers
rare and exclusive access and insight to the Tuareg separatist struggle in their
homeland as well as exploring the rival al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Welsh comments, “The Tuareg story is one of an extremely impoverished people
whose land harbours the largest energy reserves on the African continent, and
who have been fighting for various forms of self-determination for 50 years.’

The first film in the three-part series, Orphans of the Sahara – Return,
documents how thousands of Gaddafi’s Tuareg mercenaries return to their
Saharan homeland after fleeing from Libya. Terrible poverty, hunger and drought
await them in the areas to which they return which are spread across northern
Niger and northern Mali.

With few other skills and largely unable to feed their children, the men in Mali
rise up to establish their own country while those in Niger risk their lives to
return to Libya.

“The story of my son is a man chased by poverty. Hunger that you can see if you
look at the women and children around us. He was forced to travel to Libya, so
he went. It wasn’t a choice,” says Amamatou Bint Tigzali, mother of a Tuareg

Orphans of the Sahara – Return, airs on Al Jazeera English on 9 January at
20h00 GMT.

Watch and embed the promo at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4ADnH-


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