News / Africa

UN: Mali Faces Deepening Humanitarian Crisis

FILE - Men transport humanitarian food aid onto trucks in Sevare, Feb. 4, 2013. FILE - Men transport humanitarian food aid onto trucks in Sevare, Feb. 4, 2013.
x
FILE - Men transport humanitarian food aid onto trucks in Sevare, Feb. 4, 2013.
FILE - Men transport humanitarian food aid onto trucks in Sevare, Feb. 4, 2013.
Jennifer Lazuta
The UN humanitarian coordinator for Mali says the country is in a deepening state of humanitarian crisis, with an additional 400,000 people expected to face food-insecurity by June.

Humanitarian assistance is drastically underfunded and the return of refugees who fled the conflict in 2012 and 2013 is making things worse.

The United Nations says 1.4 million people in Mali are currently in need of food assistance. This is up from 812,000 people in December 2013 and could rise to 1.9 million by June, as the lean season sets in.

Late and erratic rains last year, combined with ongoing conflict in the north of the country, meant poor crop harvests throughout much of the country. This has meant that the food stocks of many families are diminished.

“Mali continues to face very important humanitarian challenges in 2014," said David Gressly, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Mali. "People have just gone through a very, very difficult time, particularly in the north, with the conflict, with the occupation. People are even more vulnerable than normal because of all of this…We’re seeing, in particular, on the food side, continued food insecurity. So we’re quite concerned.”

Gressly said that an estimated half-million children under the age of five in Mali will suffer from moderate to severe malnutrition this year and 136,000 children will be severely malnourished. He said Mali could see a spike in its child mortality rate if these cases are left untreated.

There is also concern among humanitarian workers that the food security situation could further deteriorate as those displaced by the conflict return home.

“We’re seeing increasing numbers of refugees coming home," said Gressly. "Half the IDPs have come home. That puts an additional burden on local communities as the numbers increase. It will take a while before those who are coming home can also contribute to production. The agricultural campaign is just now starting. So they can start, but we won’t see any output from that until the end of the year.”

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that nearly 200,000 internally displaced people, or IDPs, and refugees who fled to neighboring Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, returned to the north between December and March.  

Gressly said there could be an acceleration of that return in coming months, particularly if progress is made with ongoing peace discussions.

To help ease the burden of food insecurity in the country, Mali’s government pledged to contribute 34,000 tons of cereal to food aid efforts this year.

Gressly said that this is quite a significant contribution, but is not enough.

OCHA reports that $568 million is needed to provide humanitarian assistance, including food aid, in Mali in 2014.  As of the end of March, donors had only funded around 10 percent, or $56 million, of this amount.

Gressly said that this lack of funding is quite worrying.

“It’s unfortunate, but there are many crises around the world right now - in South Sudan, Central African Republic, Syria, etc. - which seem to be drawing the resources that are also needed in places like Mali," said Gressly. "And the problem I see with that, not only the humanitarian impact, but if you look at the overall needs of Mali, trying to stabilize after the conflict of 2012, insufficient humanitarian assistance actually has a destabilizing impact as well.”

Gressly said many organizations, including the World Food Program, have begun rationing their already limited resources. They hope to buy some time until more funding comes in.

He said the U.N. is now trying to raise additional money by advising donors that there is still a significant and pressing need for humanitarian assistance in Mali.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tomasi
April 12, 2014 2:30 PM
Please remember those people in Zimbabwe, further South. They seem to be forgotten David Gressly.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid