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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid