News24

Mali: Red Cross launches 'huge' aid plan

2012-07-16 19:46

Geneva - The Red Cross has launched a huge food relief plan in northern Mali to help people affected by fighting and failing harvests who are "no longer able to meet their basic food needs", the aid agency said on Monday.

"People in the north are no longer able to meet their basic food needs. Food is scarce and expensive. Most families have been hit doubly hard: both by poor crops in 2011 and by the current conflict," said Jean-Nicolas Marti, head of the international committee of the Red Cross delegation for Mali and Niger.

The relief plan began at the weekend in Gao and Timbuktu regions, according to the ICRC statement, with more than 160 000 people in line to receive rice, semolina, beans, oil and salt in the next three weeks.

The next phase involves distributing rice and sorghum seed to 42 000 farmers in Gao, Timbuktu and Mopti regions.

The ICRC will also buy around 10 000 sick or weak goats, sheep and cows from 5 000 families in northern Mali's three regions, the statement added.

With this income, herders can buy grain and other essential supplies. The livestock will be slaughtered and the meat distributed to those most in need.

Since April, violence in the region, where armed Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda have seized control, had forced the ICRC to scale back its presence and suspend aid distributions.

"By engaging in dialogue with all the armed groups and other actors on the ground, we are now in a position to resume large-scale activities throughout northern Mali," Marti said.