The New Times (Kigali)

27 February 2013

Mali: Aid Critical to Mali

A UN official on Tuesday said that people in Mali are in urgent need of assistance to rebuild their lives in the wake of the conflict, urging donor partners to contribute funds generously.

John Ging, the operations director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said at a press briefing here: "We need the generosity of the humanitarian community to enable an effective humanitarian and development response."

Ging, recently back from a four-day visit to Mali to assess the humanitarian situation there, said that security and safety were the top concerns for those living in the African country.

"The people of the north are very traumatized by the experience of the past year and are very much still in fear," he noted.

The crisis started in January of last year, when Islamic militants occupied the north of the country, taking advantage of the fighting that erupted between government and Tuareg forces. France launched a military intervention last month to dislodge the rebels, but the situation remains fragile.

Nearly 431,000 people in Mali have been displaced by the crisis, including 170,000 refugees, said the OCHA official.

Ging also said that addressing education needs is vital and that 700,000 children have been affected by the crisis. School buildings have suffered infrastructure damage and teachers have fled the north of the country.

"The disruption is very profound. The urgency to recover the education sector is a very high priority," he said.

The effects of the crisis have been compounded by the food insecurity that has plagued the country, located within the Sahel region that has been suffering from poor crop seasons due to the blistering summers.

Xinhua

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