Insecurity in Mali has led to the flight and continued forced displacement of a huge number of Malians.
Reports say nearly 320,000 Malians have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries or seek refuge in safer parts of Mali as a result of clashes that resumed in January in the country’s north between Government forces and Tuareg rebels.
In addition, the proliferation of armed groups in the region and a deepening crisis due to a coup d’etat in March have worsened the instability of the region.
To address the worsening humanitarian situation, the United Nations refugee agency today appealed for $153.7 million to assist Malians uprooted by insecurity and taking refuge in neighbouring countries in West Africa’s Sahel region.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)says the new appeal will cover operations this year in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
UNHCR adds that the increased funding will enable the agency to assist 240,000 refugees and 200,000 internally displaced Malians until the end of the year.
The agency reports that acute malnutrition rates among children is also on the rise under five years old, saying the rate is alarming, particularly in refugee sites in Mauritania and Niger.
UNHCR states there is an urgent need to increase water supply and improve sanitary conditions as well.
UNHCR has only received 13 per cent of the $153.7 million needed.
This January, the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA) – a Tuareg rebel movement, comprised of many warriors who launched a brutal attack against the Malian state military.
According to reports, MLNA has about 1,000 members and also includes Tuareg soldiers who deserted the Malian army.
The Malian government has claimed that MNLA of having links to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Tuareg nomads are present throughout the Sahel region of Africa. Both Mali and Niger have battled Tuareg uprisings in the last decade.