The number of people fleeing violence, activities by armed groups, and military operations is rising in central and northern Mali, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council. It said the violence has left more than 34,000 recently displaced persons without humanitarian assistance, despite having their needs recorded by aid agencies. The agencies are unable to provide emergency relief to starving women and children after running out of funds, it said.
"Instead of providing lifesaving aid, we are watching scenes of mothers forced to watch their children cry out from hunger, risking death," said Hassane Hamadou, NRC's country director in Mali. "Mothers are imploring us to give them food and aid, and so we are calling on international parties to pay attention to their request," Hamadou said.
Faced with an unexpected increase in people forced to flee in central and northern Mali, NRC exhausted its funding for emergency responses in September and since then has been unable to offer life-saving relief to newly displaced persons. NRC is deeply worried and is calling for a rapid mobilization of financial partners, without which thousands of lives could be threatened.
5.2 million people require humanitarian aid
About 5.2 million people require humanitarian assistance in Mali this year. The current needs are higher than at any time since the beginning of the security crisis in 2012, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). NRC said so far the 330-million-dollar UN aid appeal for Mali is half funded, while the number of people in need continues to rise. Nearly 70,000 people have been displaced for violence and insecurity in the past two months, bringing the total number of displaced since the start of this year to 120,000.
"More than a third of those who are fleeing violence are mothers with their children, left alone to fend for themselves. Men, afraid to be targeted by armed groups, often go hide in the bush with close to nothing to survive,” said Hamadou.