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Mali is on the verge of a major humanitarian crisis, the global organisation Plan International has warned. Tens of thousands of displaced people together with those trapped in the conflict areas are unreachable. In addition, the conflict is preventing farmers sowing the 2013 crop and there are fears that up to two million people will be affected a food crisis this year.
Since fighting started on 10 January 2013, an estimated 10,000 people have fled, according to UN figures. Approximately 376,000 people have been displaced since the crisis started in March 2012. Of this, almost quarter of a million people is internally displaced and the remainder have fled to neighbouring countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso.
As fighting continues, aid agencies are expecting the numbers of displaced people to rise to nearly three-quarters of a million in the coming next months.
“The newly displaced need almost everything. They need food, shelter, water, sanitation and psychological support. We need adequate funding to be able to scale up our response as the numbers go up”, the Plan Mali Emergency Response Manager, Anthonin Ngarukiye said.
Already, Plan has been responding to the humanitarian needs of the internally displaced people in Mali by distributing dignity kits and by providing psychological support, protection and education services to children impacted by the conflict. A dignity kit comprises basic needs items such as towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste, rubber slippers, paracetamol and mosquito nets.
Plan is also concerned about the impact of the conflict on food availability.
Plan Mali Country Director William Michelet said the fighting is interfering with agricultural activities and crop production.
“Farmers usually start preparing their fields in February however in the current climate it means that many of them are not able to work and this will have a big impact on food production,” he said.
Before the military action began on 10 January, more than two million people were at risk of food insecurity in Mali especially in northern Mali. It is estimated that 660,000 children are now at risk of acute malnutrition and about 1.5 million people are at risk of epidemics due to weak water and sanitation facilities in the north.
“Time is of the essence to the response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Mali,” said, Dr Unni Krishnan, Head of Disaster Response and Preparedness at Plan International.
“Displaced people, especially children are impacted both physically and psychologically. Along with lifesaving measures such as water and health care, emotional first aid and recreational activities should be taken up immediately,” he added.
Plan’s experience at working in such humanitarian situations shows that relief work that balances provision of life saving needs such food, water and psychosocial support helps to hasten children’s recovery.
Plan’s emergency response operation is estimated to cost US$3.2 million over the next six months.
Further details please contact:
Emergency Communications Officer, Plan Mali
Mobile: +223 74 18 96 91
Thiekoro Coulibaly, PR and Communications Advisor, Plan Mali
Mobile: +223 76 29 40 42
Florence Cisse, Regional Media Specialist, Senegal
Mobile: +221 777 403 600
Terry Ally, Press Officer, Emergencies and Disasters, Plan International HQ, UK
Mobile: + 44 7720 736 884