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Commissioner Georgieva warns of possible humanitarian disaster in northern Mali

Families displaced © EU
12/04/2012  - 

Unless there is rapid progress in the coming days to open the humanitarian space and allow in supplies of food and medicines to the North of Mali, there will be a major humanitarian disaster which could spill over to neighbouring countries, warns Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva. The European Commission is giving an additional €9 million to respond to the new humanitarian needs in northern Mali, but fighting and insecurity are hindering aid delivery to those most in need.

Violence has displaced hundreds of thousands of people either within northern Mali (the estimated number of internally displaced persons exceeds 100,000) or over the borders in neighbouring states, mostly Algeria, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso (around 136,000 refugees in total). Those who remain in their homes have diminishing access to basic services and goods and are exposed to attacks and human rights abuses.

Commissioner Georgieva said: "Many among the displaced were already on the edge of survival due to the Sahel food crisis. I fear that the recent violence will exacerbate further the food emergency both in Mali's North and in neighbouring countries where refugees are flowing to areas of acute food insecurity. This is why the Commission is stepping up our humanitarian aid to those forced to flee the conflict.

"But our capacity to respond quickly to the growing needs is limited by insecurity. I call upon all parties involved in the fighting in the North to respect the rights of civilians and International Humanitarian Law and to give unhindered access for humanitarian workers to those in need," Georgieva underlined.

The new emergency aid funding aims to scale up the delivery of food, medicines, water and sanitation to the most vulnerable displaced civilians in northern Mali and in neighbouring countries. It will be channelled through UN agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and international NGOs.

"Europe continues our massive humanitarian operation throughout the Sahel. We are determined to prevent the food crisis from turning into a disaster – and I am confident that our aid will save millions of lives and help bring relief in the worst affected areas," Commissioner Georgieva pledged.

This €9 million of funding comes on top of the over €280 million which the Commission has mobilised to address the food crisis that is affecting eight countries of the West Africa region. Mali is one of the worst-affected with 1.4 million people now in need of emergency food assistance.