The UN Security Council has called on African allies and the UN to present a specific plan for military intervention in Mali within 45 days.
The 15-nation council backed a French motion to help the government retake the north of the country currently under the control of Islamist extremists.
French President Francois Hollande is in Senegal and fears for the region and beyond:
“What’s been happening in the Sahel over the past few months and in Mali where terrorism is structured and settled, is not just a threat to West Africa. It is not just an aggression against Mali, a sovereign state, it is a major question for the security of the African continent and Europe.”
Mali descended into chaos in March when soldiers toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum enabling Tuareg rebels to seize control of two-thirds of the country.
However, in the north, Islamists have hijacked the revolt and the humanitarian and security situation continues to nosedive.