Refugee family in the M'bera camp near Mauritania's border with Mali. Credit: IRIN/Jaspreet Kindra
Operations Director John Ging called on the international community to step up efforts to help hundreds of thousands of people in Mali who have suffered brutal violence and economic collapse since the start of the conflict in the north in early 2012.
Mr. Ging, who visited Bamako, Mopti and Timbuktu last week, spoke to reporters today at UN headquarters highlighting the urgency of the humanitarian situation and the need for more support.
“The people of Mali have suffered appallingly,” said John Ging
. “Now is the time for us to help.” Some of the people Mr. Ging met told him that they did not want to become dependent on international aid but still needed basic support to survive and cope with the crisis.
“These are dignified people who are not asking for much,” added Mr. Ging. “In the north, they want to get back on their feet after a year of brutality and devastation. They want protection, they want to send their children back to school, to have a functioning health service, to reopen markets and to sow their crops in time for a successful harvest.”
Since January 2012, more than 430,000 people have been displaced, including over 170,000 who have fled to neighbouring countries such as Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger. Families are finding it harder and harder to get enough food in the region, which is prone to recurrent drought, because of the disruption to trade routes and a steep rise in food prices. During a visit to a local hospital in Timbuktu, Mr. Ging met young children whose limbs had been amputated, mostly due to unexploded ordnance and mines.
Despite insecurity and limited access, a number of humanitarian organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross have been providing assistance in northern Mali. Elsewhere, aid agencies have reached about 77,000 displaced people and the communities hosting them with food aid, medical treatment and other critical assistance. Close to 14,000 malnourished children have been newly admitted to treatment centres, mostly in the south where food insecurity remains a major concern.
UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations have appealed
for US$373 million to provide life-saving aid and livelihood support in 2013 but have so far only received $17 million. They need $153 million for the most urgent support in the next six months.
“Unfortunately Mali isn’t in the centre of the global media and political attention. The response to our appeal so far has been very poor,” said Mr. Ging. “My message to our donor partners is that it is urgent that they release the funding which is so obviously needed. It will have such a positive impact on the ground for people who have endured so much for so long.”