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Mali: on the spot helping people in the north

16 August 2012

Mali: on the spot helping people in the north

In the north of Mali, a region controlled by various armed groups, the ICRC and the Mali Red Cross continue to bring food and medical care to people who can no longer meet basic needs.

"Because of the food crisis and the armed conflict, the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families in the north of Mali have been severely impaired," said Jean-Nicolas Marti, the head of the ICRC delegation for Mali and Niger, who has just completed a visit to the northern Malian city of Gao.

Displaced people, host families – after having shared what little they have with the displaced – and countless other families can no longer meet their own basic vital needs. "Their coping mechanisms have been exhausted and their endurance weakened by the situation," said Mr Marti.

The food distributions that started in mid-July in cooperation with the Mali Red Cross have been proceeding without any major difficulties. They have now commenced in Kidal. "The needs are enormous," said Mr Marti. "This aid is intended for the neediest – in all, almost 160,000 people throughout the area."

36,000 people receive aid in Kidal

In the area around Kidal, the northernmost part of northern Mali, the ICRC started to distribute food for some 36,000 people on 10 August. The distribution is taking place in the Tessalit, Abeibara, Tin Essok and Kidal districts.

A ration consisting of 50 kilograms of rice, 25 kilograms of wheat meal, 10 litres of cooking oil and one kilogram of iodized salt will be distributed to each family determined to be needy with the help of community leaders.

Some 120,000 people in the Gao and Timbuktu areas were already given food aid in July.

Visit to Gao hospital

On 13 August, Mr Marti visited the Gao regional hospital, which since April has been functioning with support from the ICRC. "I wanted very much to be able to voice my support in person for the medical personnel and the ICRC staff who keep the hospital going in sometimes difficult circumstances," he said. It was the first visit of the head of delegation to this part of Mali since the conflict erupted in January. The ICRC will continue to provide support for the facility, which is vital to all of northern Mali.

The ICRC is also maintaining its support for other health-care facilities. On 7 August, it delivered seven tonnes of medicines and other medical items to the referral health-care centre in Ansongo, 100 kilometres south of Gao. In addition, it has donated essential medicines to the community health-care centres of Ber and Al Moustarat, near Timbuktu.

During his visit to Gao, Mr Marti had talks with community leaders in Gao and with the leaders of the armed groups in the city.

Soldier released by the MNLA handed over to the authorities in Bamako

On 9 August, the ICRC took part in the transfer of a Malian soldier who had been released one week earlier by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). He was handed over to the Malian authorities at Bamako airport. The release took place following a visit by the ICRC to 79 military personnel held by the armed group near Tinzaouatène, in the extreme north of the country.

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