A nomadic tribe is forced to lend a hand to fight Libyan rebels in order to survive.

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

“Things are really hard at the moment,” says my Touareg friend Ahmed over the phone from Kidal. He sounds dejected. “There’s no work. We’re watching the news and nobody is happy about it. If Gaddafi goes, then the Touareg will be in great danger.”

It now seems certain that up to 800 young Touareg have been lured north from Mali and Niger to go and fight as mercenaries for Gaddafi since the start of the Libyan uprising. This is unsurprising if you consider the dire poverty and joblessness in the southern Sahara. For some desperate youth, Gaddafi’s promise of petrodollars is very tempting.

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