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Reporter’s View | Philip Kleinfeld on the challenges of covering spreading militancy in the Sahel

A man in a white top stands in front of cattle
A displaced Dogon man in a village near Bankass town. (Philip Kleinfeld/IRIN)

From August 2018 through May 2019, reporter Philip Kleinfeld documented the upheaval to civilians’ lives and livelihoods as violence spread through the Sahel region of West Africa.

 

From the sandstone cliffs of Bandiagara in central Mali, to remote villages in northern and eastern Burkina Faso, he encountered new communal militias, and victims of jihadist and state security forces as he sought out communities impacted by the violence.

 

In this Reporter’s View, he describes the risks he faced, shares stories he heard along the way, and notes the warning signs missed as violence rose to unprecedented levels, leaving thousands of people dead and hundreds of thousands more forced from their homes.

 

“I was frankly shocked by what I discovered,” says Kleinfeld, who has reported previously on conflict in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Congo-Brazzaville. “I was really shocked by the scale of the violence.”

Read more of our in-depth coverage on the Sahel’s spreading militancy here.

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