Instability, fighting and other violence in the north of Mali are deterring displaced people from returning to their homes. New displacement is adding to the thousands of people, displaced or hosting the displaced, already struggling to obtain water and food and meet other urgent needs.
"The fact that displaced people are hesitant to go back to their homes is largely attributable to a general sense of not feeling secure, and also to the impossibility of generating income amid such instability," said Jean-Nicolas Marti, the head of the ICRC regional delegation for Mali and Niger.
For displaced people and residents hosting them, living conditions are becoming more difficult every day. "The small number of returnees observed at the beginning of February in the central part of the country have not been followed by others," said Mr Marti. "The ongoing fighting holds people back."
Meanwhile, the particularly difficult situation in the north-east of the country is causing people from Gao, Kidal and Tessalit to seek refuge far from their home villages.
Providing support for people suffering the effects of the conflict
To meet the urgent needs of displaced people, the ICRC and the Mali Red Cross have distributed 122 tonnes of rice, cooking oil, semolina and iodized salt to 6,600 people in Tin Zaouatène, in the Kidal area in the north-east of the country, near the border with Algeria.
Wells and latrines are being upgraded to improve access to clean drinking water and basic hygiene for displaced people in Tin Zaouatène. In addition, jerrycans and water purification tablets have been distributed.
Moreover, food aid has been provided for 3,240 other displaced people and residents in Korientzé and Sendegué, in the central Konna area.
If security conditions permit, the ICRC and the Mali Red Cross will distribute food aid in the coming weeks to more than 290,000 residents and displaced and vulnerable people in the Mopti, Timbuktu and Gao areas.
Treating casualties in Gao Hospital
Following the recent fighting in Gao, eight casualties were provided with medical care in the city's ICRC-supported hospital. Over the past week, 313 people were seen by staff, 45 were admitted as inpatients and eight childbirths took place in the medical facility. Furthermore, the hospital medical staff was bolstered by the arrival of an additional surgeon.
Five community health-care centres in the Timbuktu and Gao areas were supplied with enough medicines to meet needs for the next three months. This action reflects the special attention that is being paid to access to care for people in rural areas suffering the effect of the conflict.
Visiting people detained in connection with the conflict
ICRC delegates are continuing to visit people arrested and held in connection with the conflict, in particular in Bamako, Mopti, Sévaré, Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal. On these visits, detainees are given the opportunity to contact their families. In some cases, detainees are supplied with hygiene items.
The ICRC is continuing its dialogue with the parties with the aim of obtaining access to all people arrested and held in connection with the conflict.
Providing support for veterinary services
"Because of the lack of security, which restricts the movement of people and goods, veterinary services can reach herds of livestock only with great difficulty," said Philippe Mbonyingingo, the head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Mopti.
The ICRC is maintaining its support for the vaccination and treatment of more than 1.5 million head of livestock against contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, small ruminant pest and camel pasteurellosis. The vaccination campaign, which is being conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Stockbreeding and Fisheries, aims to reach as many head of livestock as possible in all parts of northern Mali.
Spreading knowledge of international humanitarian law
The ICRC continues to organize sessions to raise awareness of international humanitarian law, particularly within the Malian armed forces and foreign contingents.