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article imageThe UN says Malians are in desperate need of aid

By Raluca Besliu     Feb 27, 2013 in Politics
A top official of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stressed that, as Mali is stabilizing after a period of violence and economic collapse, the international community should deliver the aid that Malians desperately need.
While the most recent humanitarian appeal for Mali requests $373 million, of which $153 million for the most urgent interventions in the next six months, only $17 million have been received thus far.
According to the OCHA official, the key priorities for Malians living in the northern part of the country include re-opening markets, health clinics and schools, as 700,000 children have been affected by the crisis and that 200,000 have not had any schooling in the past year, as well as increasing security.
Fighting started in January 2012 between the Mali government and the Tuareg rebels, who seized control of the Saharan north. They were nevertheless quickly pushed out by al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist groups, which imposed sharia law, including stoning for adulterers and forcing women to don veils. A French-led military intervention started in January 2013 has managed to remove insurgents from several key towns, such as Timbuktu, and is currently striving to drive them away from remote northeast mountains and the desert.
The OCHA director revealed the fact that Malians fear not only the rebels and Islamists, but also government troops, which could carry out ethnic reprisals against light-skinned Tuaregs and Arabs associated with the Islamists.
He further added that, even before the fighting began in 2012, Mali was struck by the severe food crisis that affected the Sahel region, leaving 585,000 people in need of immediate food assistance and a million more at risk. As a consequence of the damages caused by the Sahel food crisis, restoring livelihoods and ensuring people’s ability to feed themselves should be a key priority when allocating currently available international assistance.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also launched a call for $45 million urgently needed to tackle the basic needs of women and children affected by the crisis during the upcoming three months.The agency emphasized in a press release that "there have been instances of recruitment of children by armed groups, threats from unexploded ordnance, gender-based violence and a heavy impact on the education provision for this generation of children."
More about Mali, Financial aid, France
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