Tuareg separatists are undecided about what to do with captives they say fought for al-Qaeda-linked groups in the mountains of northern Mali.
With little resources at their disposal, the Tuareg captors have found it difficult to feed the 48 captives, many of whom are underage.
All the detainees say they are being wrongly linked to al-Qaeda.
The problems began in March last year, when soldiers in the Malian army staged a coup over the alleged mismanagement of a Tuareg rebellion in the north.
The armed group was soon split and sidelined by the al-Qaeda-linked militias, however, who threatened to take over country’s power centre in the south.
France launched a military intervention in January to hold back the rebel advance.
Al Jazeera's Mohamed Vall filed this exclusive report from Kidal in northern Mali.