Protection of civilians top priority for UN humanitarian relief agencyListen /
There's increasing concern for the welfare of more than 1.2 million people in northern Mali who have been affected by armed conflict in the country and who have limited access to humanitarian aid.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), says it's received reports of human rights violations, recruitment of child soldiers and rising sexual violence in the north. The agency also says that protecting civilians from the risk of unexploded mines and other explosives is an urgent priority.
Jens Laerke, OCHA spokesperson, says that there are signs of improving access to central Mali and, to a lesser extent, to the north, but there are many thousands of people in need of help right now.
"The situation remains highly volatile and we estimate that there are some 16,000 people who have been newly displaced within Mali and we have tens of thousands, or more than 21,000 people, who have crossed borders into neighbouring countries since the beginning of the year."
A humanitarian appeal for Mali asked for US$ 373 million but only four per cent of that amount has been received to date.
Nicki Chadwick, UN Radio, Geneva.