With Conflict Intensifying in Mali, International Medical Corps Deploys aTeam to the Region to Address Humanitarian Needs
LOS ANGELES, CA, January 23, 2013
– International Medical Corps has sent an emergencyresponse team to Mali and Mauritania to assess humanitarian needs resulting from intensifyingconflict between armed rebels and the government in Mali. An estimated 4.2 million Maliansare in need of humanitarian assistance, facing widespread displacement and high levels of hunger. At least 9,661 Malians have been newly displaced since January 10, and the UnitedNations has warned that 700,000 Malians could be displaced by fighting in the coming months.On January 10, armed Islamist groups controlling northern Mali began moving south and tookover the city of Konna, triggering intervention by the French army. Some 1,800 French troopspoured into Mali as the French army carried out airstrikes to take back control of Konna.Meantime, French special forces and Malian government troops launched a ground operationto take back the town of Diabaly—seized by Islamist fighters last week—which is located about250 miles from Mali’s capital, Bamako. Several Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) nations have also deployed forces in support of the French and Malian army inrecent days.Rebel groups in northern Mali have staged uprisings against the government since the early1990s. In March 2012, President Amadou Toumani Toure was ousted in a coup, effectivelysplitting the country in two, with well-armed Islamists controlling the three northern regions of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu. Violence in 2012 caused more than 460,000 people to flee theirhomes, many of them fleeing across the border into Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso. TheUnited Nations estimates that more than 3,599 have been internally displaced since January10, adding to the 228,920 already displaced. Approximately 6,062 new Malian refugees havecrossed the border since January 10, adding to the 147,000 Malian refugees already living inneighboring states.Sanitation, shelter, health and food security conditions have deteriorated significantly over thepast nine months, creating a humanitarian situation that will likely worsen as intensifiedviolence displaces additional civilians. Before January 10, more than 2 million people were atrisk of food insecurity and 666,000 children at risk of acute malnutrition. Due to theinadequate water and sanitation conditions in the country, about 1.5 million people are at riskof epidemics. The majority of humanitarian needs are in the south, where health services andschools have been overwhelmed by the influx of northerners. Meanwhile, most schools areclosed in the north, where children remain at risk of recruitment by rebels, violence, sexualabuse and exploitation.On January 22, International Medical Corps deployed an emergency assessment team toBamako, Mali to assess the humanitarian needs of internally displaced persons in Mali andMalian refugees that have crossed the border into Hoch Ech Chargi, Mauritania. Theemergency team will be working with other local and international organizations to identifycritical unmet needs among the displaced in Mauritania and the affected regions of Mali, whichinclude: Bamako, Mopti, Ségou and Timbuktu. International Medical Corps anticipates needsfor services in health, nutrition, water supply, sanitation and hygiene, mental health andpsychosocial support, and protection for affected Malians in Mali and Mauritania.