News / Africa

Humanitarian Situation Remains Fragile in Mali

FILE - A boy who fled northern Mali is seen at a camp for internally displaced persons, about 620 kilometers north of Bamako, in the city of Sevare, Mali.
FILE - A boy who fled northern Mali is seen at a camp for internally displaced persons, about 620 kilometers north of Bamako, in the city of Sevare, Mali.
Lisa Schlein
The United Nations says conditions for hundreds of thousands of people in Mali continues to be fragile despite improvements in the security situation and better access to vulnerable people by aid agencies. The U.N. is appealing for $569 million to provide food, medical care and other life-saving assistance to millions of Malians emerging from years of conflict.

 The United Nations reports that over the past year, Mali has gone through an extraordinary change. It says general security throughout the country improved enormously after the intervention of French and African forces in the conflict-ridden North.

Despite these changes for the better, it says millions of people continue to be in desperate need of assistance.  

U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator for Mali, David Gressly, said 800,000 people currently are suffering from severe food shortages and that figure is expected to rise to 1.3 million later in the year.

He notes lack of rain last year has produced a bad harvest. As a consequence, he said the so-called hunger season -- the period when people have run out of food stocks and can no longer cope -- is expected to start much earlier this year, perhaps by March or April.

Gressly said tens of thousands of malnourished children could die if they do not receive appropriate help in a timely manner.

“These children are truly in a very difficult situation. Treatment costs about $100 to save that life. It is not expensive and we can probably save, as I mentioned, about 50,000 lives this year.  Nobody will notice if they die.  I can tell you that right now because they will just die in peoples’ homes and these children.  But, they will still die.”

Gressly says there is no war going on in Mali right now. Localized attacks, basic criminality and banditry, however, are creating instability and insecurity.  

Islamist militants linked to al-Qaida sidelined the Tuareg rebellion against the government in 2012 and took over the region. French forces succeeded in ousting them. These militant groups remain in the north, though, and mount sporadic attacks against military installations.

Humanitarian coordinator Gressly said they do not pose much of a threat to the local population. But he said the general insecurity is discouraging internally displaced and refugee populations from returning to their homes.

“Of the 217,000 estimated IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons] in Mali, 60 percent of them are estimated to be in the north.  So, they are back in their regions, but they have not gone back to their home locations largely because of concerns over insecurity.  The same is true for refugee movements,” said Gressly.

As in the case with IDPs, Gressly said refugees are inhibited from returning home because of fear of insecurity and retribution. He said that only about 15,000 of the 168,000 refugees who have sought asylum in neighboring countries have returned to Mali.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs