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420,000 People Are in Need of Assistance in Northern Mali

  • Kim Lewis

The humanitarian situation in northern Mali continues to deteriorate as some 420,000 people are in need of food assistance due to recent flooding. The International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, says it has appealed for additional funding to help feed and care for flooding victims in the regions of Timbukto, Gao, Kidal and Mopti.

ICRC spokesperson Jean-Yves Clemenzo said the flooding has not only destroyed crops but has caused the price of food to increase at the markets. As a result, the ICRC has stepped up measures to distribute food to the most needed areas.

“We started our distribution two weeks ago. So far, we have access to most of the places in northern Mali. We are distributing to people mainly rice, salt, oil. We started two weeks ago. It is still a difficult process but we hope to achieve this goal,” said Clemenzo.

He said people are unable to buy basic food in the market so the assistance will help them for now, but the next step will be to have more basic infrastructure in place.

“For instance, more medical care, more support for the main hospital in northern Mali, is needed. The ICRC is currently supporting the hospital in Gao. We are providing fuel for electricity,” said Clemenzo.

Another major concern has been the huge spike in the number of malaria cases during the rainy season. Gao’s regional hospital reported a large increase in malaria patients in September.

“Malaria spreads when you have more rains. We’ve noticed, for instance, that in September, among the 1,500 outpatient visits that took place, that around one-third of these patients had malaria,” said Clemenzo.

Clemenzo said while the international community has responded to their appeal for more funding, it is not enough. The organization has requested an additional $20-million to help with the humanitarian crisis in northern Mali.