Conflict in Mali postpones Quebecer's humanitarian trip

Puit Eau Mali's Jean-Pierre Monette has postponed his humanitarian trip to Mali in light of the conflict between rebel forces and the government.
Puit Eau Mali is a non-governmantal organization from Quebec which installs water wells in villages in Mali. The founders have postponed their trip due to the country's conflict. (Courtesy Puit Eau Mali)

As several rebel groups in the north of Mali wage an insurgency against the government, a Quebecer who heads a non-governmental organization has decided to postpone his trip to the country until the conflict dies down.  

Jean-Pierre Monette, co-founder of Puit Eau Mali, has been traveling to Mali since 2009 to build wells with the mission to provide safe drinking water where there isn't any.  

On Wednesday, France announced it was deploying troops to the north of Mali into the stronghold of the radical Islamists. A land assault is set to take place in the town of Diabaly, located 400 kilometres northeast of the capital city Bamako.  

Monette has postponed his trip for safety reasons.  

"Because of the military situation in Mali, we don't want to be kidnapped in order to be as negotiation money," he told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.  

"We did not want to put our government in a bad position."  

Last week, Canada announced it would be sending one RCAF C-17 transport aircraft in a non-combat role to provide assistance to its French allies.  

Puit Eau Mali has already drilled two wells in the outskirts of Bamako. The plan was to drill four new wells about four hours west of Bamako, far from the conflict zone.  

"We were torn," Monette said of canceling the trip.  

"At the base of the pyramid, it is always the same people that are suffering from drought, from food, from the conflict. So we were torn but good things can happen."  

Monette is not concerned about the safety of the ten wells that Puit Eau Mali has already installed across the country.  

"Where we drill our wells is really very far from the cities. They are really small villages," he said.  

"Our criteria is that we have to have a village of 400 and more. Our criteria are really strict and we drill our wells in the brush. So there are no defense positions in those small villages. There's no reason why [rebels] would be there to take over the wells."  

Monette hopes to have the four wells built even if he and his wife don't travel to Mali. His hope is to return to the country within six months.