Mali: ICRC appeals for funds to boost aid effort
GENEVA, Switzerland, April 11, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Now that northern Mali has been in the grip of armed violence for almost 16 months, the living conditions of people affected by the conflict are very worrying and humanitarian needs substantial.
To continue to provide appropriate assistance for hundreds of thousands of people caught up in the conflict, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is asking donors for 40 million Swiss francs (around 33 million euros) in additional support.
"Communities have been hard hit. They need ffod, water and health care," said Régis Savioz, the ICRC's deputy director of operations, at a press conference in Bamako. "They need to regain a certain ability to fend for themselves so that they will ultimately be able to forgo outside help."
At the end of a visit that included a journey to Gao and Mopti, in the north of the country, Mr Savioz expressed the view that the unstable situation and the violence in northern cities are making living conditions even more difficult. "No significant return of refugees or other displaced people has so far been observed," he said.
The additional funding, bringing the ICRC's budget for Mali and Niger to around 75 million Swiss francs (around 61 million euros), will enable the organization to press ahead with the activities it has long been carrying out in the two countries. The operation in Mali and Niger will become the ICRC's second biggest in the world in budgetary terms.
"Every donation will enable us to increase our aid wherever necessary; priority will be given to those who need it most," said Mr Savioz. "To be able to better understand and respond to the needs, we intend to step up our work in Mali, especially in the Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu areas. The time to take action is right now."
Mr Savioz also emphasized the importance of the efforts made by the Mali Red Cross to bring aid to needy people. "The Mali Red Cross plays an essential role in Mali, where it is a key partner of the ICRC," he declared. "Without the Mali Red Cross and the cooperation of its thousands of volunteers, to whom I would like to pay tribute, we would quite simply be unable to carry out our aid activities."
Around 420,000 people will be given food aid throughout the year and some 186,000 farmers will be provided with seed. In addition, the vaccination and treatment of two million animals and the distribution of 510 tonnes of animal feed will enable 35,000 herding families to maintain their livelihood.
The ICRC will continue to provide support for the regional referral hospital in Gao and for community health-care centres. It will also continue to help supply fuel for electrical power stations in the main cities in the north of the country to ensure that water is available to inhabitants.
ICRC delegates will carry on visiting people detained in connection with the conflict. Following an agreement signed this very day with the Malian government, the ICRC expects to step up its activities for detainees and to have access to all places of detention in the country.