Nearly 700,000 children at risk of malnutrition
BAMAKO (January 15, 2013) – Amid the fighting and violence that has flared up in Mali during the past week, CARE calls on all actors to protect and expand the humanitarian space in the north of Mali so that aid organizations can deliver urgent emergency assistance.
“The violent conflict in Mali prevents humanitarian organizations, such as CARE, from fully assessing the needs of vulnerable people or from reaching them with vital relief items,” says Claudine Mensah Awute, CARE Mali’s country director. “The people of northern Mali have been stretched beyond their limits by the past year’s food and political crises. We must act quickly to provide lifesaving food, shelter, hygiene and health support.”
During the previous nine months, many Malian families have sought shelter with host families in the south of the country. With the new wave of violence, the number of displaced people has increased daily. Most of those fleeing are women and children.
“Generous host families in the south are not able to host displaced persons indefinitely,” explains Awute. “Some displaced families have pulled their children out of school to save money for more permanent housing.”
The severe food crisis which hit the Sahel region last year and badly affected many families in Mali is far from over. Although the country has recorded improved rains this year, the violence has left many farms and fields deserted.
“Current projections estimate that 660,000 children under 5 in Mali will suffer from acute malnutrition this year. If the fighting continues and people are cut off from humanitarian relief, a vicious cycle of hunger and violence will prevail,” says Awute.
CARE is coordinating with local authorities, partner organizations and other international agencies to organize swift and efficient assistance to people in need. CARE Mali’s emergency team is prepared to distribute food and relief items, such as blankets, buckets, cooking utensils and soap with a focus on households headed by women.