A Malian refugee mother and her children waiting for relief items from UNHCR in Gaoudel, Ayorou district, northern Niger. Credit: UNHCR/ H. Caux
Conflict and displacement in northern Mali are exacerbating the food and nutrition crisis across the region.
Conflict and displacement in northern Mali are continuing to exacerbate the food and nutrition crisis throughout drought-affected areas of the Sahel region, OCHA has warned.
“Across the region, more than 15 million people, including 3.5 million Malians, will be affected by severe food insecurity this year, and over 1 million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition,” said OCHA’s Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, David Gressly.
Fighting between the Malian army and armed groups has displaced more than a quarter of a million people since the beginning of 2012. Many of these people continue to arrive in drought-affected areas within Mali and in neighbouring Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania—countries already facing a food and nutrition crisis.
Poor infrastructure and insecurity have limited humanitarian access, and aid organizations are struggling to assess the humanitarian situation as well as deliver aid to the affected communities.
“Humanitarian partners need guarantees to be able to work unhindered and impartially,” said UN Resident Coordinator in Mali, Aurelien Agbenonci. “This is affecting our ability to gather accurate information, to find out what help is needed, and to deliver aid.”
Health partners have reported that the majority of hospitals in three northern regions in Mali are not functional. There are also concerns that a lack of electricity could lead to cuts in the production of potable water in the northern town of Gao, which would leave tens of thousands of people without drinking water.
Despite the challenges, humanitarian organizations are working to provide food, water and shelter in northern Mali, as well as in neighbouring countries where more than 146,000 Malians have sought refuge in recent months.
The UN Central Emergency Response Fund
(CERF) has allocated more than US$14 million for aid to affected communities of Malian refugees in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger. It has also given $1 million to the World Food Programme to secure air transportation to deliver aid within Mali.