Urgent help needed for displaced MaliansListen /
The people of Mali continue to suffer the impact of mass displacement and urgently need food and other humanitarian assistance.
That assessment comes from the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Ertharin Cousin, on her return from a five-day trip to Mali and Burkina Faso where she met people affected by the conflict in Mali and cycles of drought and poor harvests.
She says "People are still suffering; the crisis is not over. It is not safe in many of the communities in the North and people cannot go home", adding that "We need to continue to provide support so children can continue to receive food assistance".
Parts of Mali have recently become more accessible and WFP has begun to send food to Northern Mali, which had been cut off from most humanitarian assistance since conflict flared one year ago. However, the situation is still volatile and many areas remain out of reach.
The United Nations says more than 270,000 people have been displaced within Mali, while more than 170,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger. WFP and its partners are providing food assistance in all four countries.
The international community must intensify its efforts to help vulnerable and displaced Malians, said Cousin, adding that continued support is needed for communities still feeling the effects of last year's emergency caused by drought in the Sahel region of Africa – the third major drought in seven years.
Donn Bobb, United Nations.