Red Cross seeks funds for Mali, Niger

2012-02-28 14:47

Geneva - The Red Cross on Tuesday called for emergency funds to "help forestall a major humanitarian crisis" in the west African nations of Niger and Mali.

The appeal for $13.7m is aimed at helping some 700 000 people threatened by drought as well as fighting in northern Mali, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement.

"The fighting has resulted in casualties. In addition, people have been taken captive and families have been dispersed," said Boris Michel, the ICRC's North and West Africa head of operations.

The ICRC is preparing to distribute food to 84 000 people and emergency supplies to around 60 000 others, he said.

The aid is intended for people in Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu regions in northern Mali and the Tillabery and Agadez regions of Niger.

The funds will be added to €18.3m originally earmarked for this region this year.

The ICRC has been present in Mali and Niger since 2009.

Tuareg rebels, boosted by the return of some who had been fighting for late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, launched attacks on several northern towns in Mali in January as part of their campaign for autonomy.

The UN says 126 400 people have been displaced by the fighting in Mali.