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PHOTO BLOG: Malian refugees, between a rock and a hard place

Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 19 Dec 2012 17:13 GMT
Author: EC/ECHO/Anouk Delafortrie
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Conflict in northern Mali has forced an estimated 350,000 people to flee their homes and has compounded the on-going food crisis in the country. The European Commission's Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) has committed €71 million for those in need in Mali, and in countries where refugees have fled including 37.000 to Burkina Faso where the camp of Goudebo camp, 100 km from the Malian border, is in full expansion...

A 20-minute dusty drive from the town of Dori, Goudebo camp is awaiting its new inhabitants. Its 1500 occupants will be joined by thousands of others in the weeks to come as camps considered too close to the Malian border are being dismantled and refugees asked to settle further in-land.

UNHCR has started to move refugees away from the insecure border area to Goudebo camp. Here a convoy with 400 Malian refugees disembarks. They survey their new environs as they descend from the trucks carrying their scarce possessions.

The children are thirsty after the long trip south and are given water to drink. Water will not be a problem for them in future as Oxfam has dug five boreholes to guarantee sufficient water supply.

EU Commissioner for humanitarian aid Kristalina Georgieva visiting the camp to listen to the refugees' needs greets this Malian girl who arrives with her goat as her only possession.

Having to flee one’s home and move from one camp to another is an unsettling experience regardless of how much aid one receives. ECHO funds various partners to cover their basic needs such as food, water, shelter. They are grateful but only want one thing: “to go home and have peace”. 

Immediately after arrival, refugees are gathered here for registration, for the aid agencies to know their family situation and inform them about camp life and services.

Refugees stay in 'transit tents' at first like the ones seen here. During her visit to Burkina Faso and Mali, Commissioner Georgieva announced €20million extra aid to Malian refugees and to those who are internally displaced or malnourished.

After a short stay in transit tents, all refugees are given a construction kit to build their own temporary housing. Traditionally, this is the women's task. This woman is said to have arrived alone and is not being helped by others.

It isn’t all work and no play in Goudebo camp. These girls have fun playing an ancient game of throwing up and catching stones, also called knucklebones.

All photos by Anouk Delafortrie

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