News / Africa

UNHCR: Mali Conflict Poses Global Threat

Malian refugee prays at UNHCR camp for civilians fleeing violence in Libya, near the border crossing of Ras Jdir, March 3, 2011.
Malian refugee prays at UNHCR camp for civilians fleeing violence in Libya, near the border crossing of Ras Jdir, March 3, 2011.
Lisa Schlein
GENEVA — The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Antonio Guterres, says conflict in northern Mali is aggravating the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel and posing a serious threat to regional and global security.
 
According to a UNHCR report, the conflict in northern Mali has internally displaced more than 200,000 and driven more than a quarter-million refugees into neighboring countries, compounding the situation in West Africa's Sahel region, where some 18 million people are going hungry, more than a million of whom are acutely malnourished children.
 
While the world community focused on Syria, Guterres says, it ignores the deteriorating situation in Mali at its peril.
 
"If proper humanitarian assistance is not provided and if a political solution is not found, the risk of this conflict to go far beyond Mali is, in my opinion, enormous, and the implications are very serious for the whole region," he said, explaining that al-Qaida's presence in northern Mali and other countries in the region could also exacerbate crises in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and even Yemen.
 
"Let us not forget that many of the states of this region are very fragile and have enormous economic, social difficulties, and have a very limited capacity in relation to security," he said, urging international support for ECOWAS-led peace-settlement mediation in Mali. 
 
Calls for Increased Aid to the Sahel
 
Guterres is also urging international donors to provide more money to U.N. and private aid agencies for humanitarian assistance in the Sahel, saying that current programs are so under-funded that agencies are only able to provide life-saving assistance - namely shelter, food, water and health.  
 
"Very little is being done on education," he said. "Very little is being done on livelihoods and support to the capacity of people to be self-reliant, and very little is being done to support the local communities that are hosting the refugees because there are no funds for that."
 
The U.N. refugee agency has received about one-third of the $153 million it needs for its Malian refugee operations in Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger, and other aid agencies are likewise under-resourced.
 
The United States, which is the biggest donor, has contributed $350 million for the Sahel emergency, of which more than $30 million goes for Mali. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne Richard, who accompanied Guterres return from reviewing the refugee situation in Burkina Faso, says Mali is in the unfortunate situation of having to compete for scarce funds in a year of multiple crises.
 
"What we are finding is everything is being stretched thin," she said, explaining that more money is needed to help people thrive, not just survive. "And you are all reading about what is happening in Syria on a daily basis, but we're concerned that this particular crisis has been neglected."
 
According to the U.N. refugee agency officials, while basic life-saving needs for Mali's refugees are guaranteed most cases, currently available funding isn't enough to provide refugees with a dignified quality of life.
 
Since the democratically elected government of Mali was ousted by a military coup in March, various groups, including Tuareg rebels, Islamists and fighters linked to al-Qaida have been battling for control of the north.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs