ICRC makes urgent funding appeal to avert crisis in Mali, Niger
As the situation worsens in the Sahel, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has appealed for about 10 million euros to bring aid to some 700,000 people in Mali and Niger and prevent a major humanitarian crisis in both countries.
"People in Mali and Niger are facing a twofold crisis: the food insecurity that has afflicted the entire region, and the fighting in the north of Mali that is driving massive displacement," said Boris Michel, the ICRC's head of operations for North and West Africa.
According to an ICRC press release issued on Tuesday, the armed confrontations that have occurred in northern Mali in recent weeks have forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes and to seek refuge either within Mali or in neighbouring countries.
Those who have fled to Niger are concentrated in the northern Tillabéry region, one of the areas hardest hit by the food crisis and the scene of recent inter-community violence.
"The fighting has resulted in casualties. In addition, people have been taken captive and families have been dispersed," said Mr Michel.
The ICRC's priorities are to visit people detained in connection with the fighting and to provide care for the wounded either directly, through the Mali Red Cross or by supporting health-care facilities.
"We are preparing to distribute food to 84,000 people and emergency supplies to around 60,000. Shelter, clean drinking water, hygiene items and health care will also be made available as needed."
The aid that the ICRC plans to provide is intended for people in the Kidal, Gao and Tombouctou areas in the north of Mali, and in the Tillabéry and Agadez areas of Niger.
The funds requested will be additional to about 18.3 million euros initially budgeted for 2012, the ICRC said.