MAJOR HUMANITARIAN NEEDS REMAIN IN MALI - MORE MUST BE DONE TO MAKE PEACE A REALITY, SAYS OCHA OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
NEW YORK, June 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- John Ging, Operations Director for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told media after a three-day visit to Mali that life-saving assistance is still urgently needed across the country and more must be done to build a lasting peace.
'Humanitarian needs will continue to grow in Mali if there isn't a full commitment by all to peace and stability,' warned Mr. Ging, 'In different parts of the country hundreds of thousands of people desperately need water, food, and to feel safe and secure. The recent violence in Kidal underscores the need for a solution to the armed conflict and for civilians to be protected.'
In Mali, almost half a million children under five are suffering from acute malnutrition - 85 per cent of them living in the country's south - while 1.5 million people do not have enough to eat. In the North, the food crisis has been made worse by a recent deterioration in the security situation which severely limits people's access to critical services like water, healthcare, and education. Protection from violence, especially increasing sexual violence against women, must be made a priority.
More than 150,000 people remain displaced from their homes, and over 18,000 were newly displaced by the attacks in Kidal in May. Last week John Ging travelled to Gao and Menaka, where he met displaced families and humanitarian aid workers. 'The community in Menaka is badly affected by the crisis in Mali. The needs are urgent and severe: water, food and livelihoods support was the common appeal. The women I met there asked for help in ending the violence they face. Their plight is shocking and unacceptable. More must be done to protect them,' he said.
Despite limited financial resources and dangerous operating conditions, so far this year UN humanitarian organizations and their partners have helped provide more than half a million people with food aid, over 200,000 people now have permanent access to drinkable water, and 150,000 people received healthcare.
'The prospects for a peaceful Mali depend on the courage of political leaders to demonstrate their full commitment to the peace process,' noted Mr. Ging. 'The international community needs to show strong support for the people of Mali as they take these crucial steps and we also need them to help us scale up our humanitarian aid by giving generously.'