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NIAMEY, Niger 2 April 2012 --- World Vision is concerned that today’s decision by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to impose sanctions against Mali, cutting off the borders and implementing strong sanctions could have negative and far-reaching impact on the country’s poorest and most vulnerable. The sanctions come at a time when many are already struggling to buy food in the midst of the escalating hunger crisis. Some 15 million people are at risk from a food crisis in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa.
World Vision worries that potential impacts include:
• A huge impact on the economy and on daily life in landlocked Mali. 90 percent of the country’s imports come through ports in the Ivory Coast and Senegal.
• Any shortage in commodities will lead to increase in prices which are already out of reach for Mali’s poor.
• A high potential for unrest and violence as resources become scarce, prices increase and money is not readily available
• Interruptions in the electricity supply as it depends on fuel from Ivory Coast. Generators will not be able to run water pumps or lighting
World Vision's Food Crisis Response Manager for Mali and Niger Chris Palusky said:
“We’re concerned about the impact these sanctions will have for the average family already struggling to survive. The closing of the borders means the high food prices will climb even further out the reach of the poorest members of Mali’s population – people who are already spacing out their meals or eating less each day. In addition, the people who at the moment may be barely able to afford food may be pushed into dependency on food assistance.”
“Regardless of the whether the current leadership stays in charge or not following the expiration of the deadline, humanitarian assistance must reach the poor and vulnerable in Mali. All actors with influence over aid flows must ensure free access of humanitarian agencies to the populations in need, respecting the independence of humanitarian aid from political and military objectives. The international community, including the United Nations and ECOWAS, must work swiftly to find a peaceful and sustainable solution to the current political uncertainty.”
“The conflict has made a chronic food crisis much worse with some 150,000 Malians displaced in the north of the country and in neighboring countries. Those forced to flee their homes are in need of food, shelter, clean water, healthcare and basic household items. Those crossing borders are taking refuge in communities already impoverished by the food crisis and bearing the burden of the refugee crisis.”