IOM urges access to displaced Malians

2012-05-24 10:31

Dakar - The International Organisation for Migration on Wednesday appealed for $3.5m to provide immediate life-saving assistance to internally displaced Malians who have fled fighting and insecurity in the north of the country.

The IOM said it was working with local partners, including the Malian Red Cross, the Association of Municipalities of Mali (AMM) and the Malian Civil Protection to gain access to displaced populations who remain trapped in northern conflict areas without adequate aid.

Displaced Malians have sought shelter in the capital Bamako, the northern river port city of Mopti and the western city of Kayes.

The humanitarian assistance, including the provision of shelter and non-food items, aims to assist vulnerable groups among those displaced who have gathered in the northern regions of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu, said an IOM statement.

The funding is needed to provide livelihood support to drought and conflict-affected host communities who can no longer cope with the tens of thousands of people arriving in their towns and villages.

The food crisis in Mali is now affecting some 3.5 million people, including 1.84 million suffering from severe food insecurity, the IOM said.

Current estimates indicate that at least 147 000 people have been forcibly displaced by the conflict, of which an estimated 45 000 are now located in the south of the country.

An estimated 97% of the internally displaced people (IDPs) are living with host families in host communities. Of these, an estimated 67% depend entirely on host families for food.

"Vulnerable displaced families living in drought-affected host communities are stretching very limited resources," said IOM chief in Mali, Lily Sanya.

Food security

"We therefore urgently need funding to provide emergency supplies to vulnerable IDPs and support to host communities to help them cope with the additional pressures resulting from this latest displacement," she added.

Reports of sexual violence and abduction of children for use as soldiers have contributed to the on-going exodus of populations from the north to border regions.

The new funding will help IOM to set up a comprehensive displacement tracking matrix to monitor movements in Mali to help the humanitarian community to assess needs and target aid more effectively.

It is also to allow the IOM and its partners to relocate people at risk to safer locations, to identify victims of trafficking or those at risk of trafficking, including unaccompanied minors, and to provide psychosocial assistance and health referrals.

The IOM is concerned that the current lack of in-country assistance in Mali would push more IDPs to migrate to neighbouring countries, including Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger, which are already struggling to cope with their own food insecurity and the arrival of more than 160 000 Malian refugees.

The return of tens of thousands of migrant workers from Libya to Mali and its neighbours in the past year has contributed to the crisis.

Putschists ousted Malian president Amadou Toumani Toure on 22 March saying he was incompetent in handling a rebellion by armed Tuaregs in the north which broke out in January.

However the coup only opened the way for the Tuaregs, armed Islamist group Ansar Dine, backed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and criminal groups to occupy the vast north of the country, an area larger than France.