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ReliefWeb - Updates

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    Source: IFRC
    Country: Mali

    Par Moustapha Diallo, FICR

    Dans un camp pour personnes forcées de quitter leurs foyers, en raison du conflit dans le nord du Mali, quelque 600 personnes croupissent dans une misère indescriptible. La plupart d'entre elles sont des femmes et des enfants. Une trentaine de tentes, quelques kiosques et des abris abris de fortune éparpillés ça et là, forment un labyrinthe. Ce campement, situé à Sévaré, une ville située dans la région de Mopti, représente ce que 70 familles appellent désormais leurs maisons.

    Debout devant une tente fournie par la Croix-Rouge malienne, Nana Traoré, une veuve de 52 ans, s’active à préparer le petit déjeuner à ses huit enfants. Au menu, un demi-verre de bouillie de mil, sans lait, ni sucre est servi à chaque enfant. «Ce n'est pas suffisant, mais c'est mieux que rien», confie Nana, qui, quelques mois avant son arrivée dans le camp, errait dans les rues de Sévaré, mendiant de la nourriture pour nourrir sa famille. «J'ai perdu mon mari qui était mon unique soutien lors d'une attaque dans la région de Kidal," explique-t-elle. "Après sa mort, je me suis enfuie avec mes enfants. Imaginez cette longue marche à pieds et en camion, avec huit enfants."

    À quelques pas de là, son voisin, Jaffar Maiga, 56 ans, chantonne pour consoler ses deux enfants qui n'ont pas encore pris le petit déjeuner. Son sourire cache mal son anxiété. Il y a un peu plus d'un an, avant le déclenchement de la crise, cet homme était un agriculteur prospère qui vivait dans le cercle de Bourel, dans la région de Gao. «J'étais le chef du village de Derrienne et j'avais des hectares de champs de riz et de mil qui me permettaient de nourrir ma famille convenablement", a déclaré Jaffar. "Aujourd'hui, sans travail et sans activité, je suis obligé de tendre la main pour survivre ».

    La crise dans le nord du Mali a provoqué le déplacement de plusieurs milliers de personnes, dont plus de 260 000 personnes qui ont fui pour chercher la sécurité dans d'autres régions du pays. Bon nombre de ces déplacés sont arrivés dans leurs nouveaux sites d’accueil, à pied, à dos d’âne, en camion, sans avoir le temps d’emporter leurs biens.

    Environ 40 000 personnes ont trouvé refuge dans la région de Mopti, survivant grâce à l'assistance offerte par des familles d'accueil ou dans des camps. Mais l'aide, quoique bien intentionnée, ne suffit pas. Les déplacés vivent dans de très mauvaises conditions. Et, même si, les villes du nord ont été épurées des insurgés par les troupes maliennes et françaises, les gens hésitent à rentrer chez eux.

    « Nous avons tout perdu pendant la crise. Je ne sais même pas ce qui est advenu à mes champs et à mon troupeau» explique Jaffar « « Retourner à la maison, c’est recommencer ma vie à zéro. Sans argent pour acheter des semences et des outils, il sera impossible de cultiver mes champs. Vaut mieux donc rester ici ».

    Jaffar et ses voisins venant du nord survivent maintenant grâce à l'aide fournie par les agences humanitaires, dont la Croix-Rouge malienne. Ils ont reçu des vivres et articles essentiels, incluant des tentes, des bâches, des moustiquaires, du savon et des ustensiles de cuisine, ainsi que des soins médicaux. «La sécurité n'est pas garantie si nous rentrons chez nous», souligne Nana Traoré. « Au moins, ici nous sommes aidés »


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    Source: Logistics Cluster
    Country: Mali
    preview



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    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal

    HIGHLIGHTS

    • Despite good agricultural production in 2012 and good conditions for pastoralists, the situation in the Sahel remains critical, mostly due to the impact of the 2012 crisis (food insecurity, floods and Mali conflict) as well as previous recent crises. Approximately 10.3 million people remain food insecure in 2013 and over 1.4 million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition.

    • Large population movements are reported as a consequence of the conflict in Mali. It is estimated that there are currently 260 665 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mali and 170 313 refugees in neighbouring countries, mainly Burkina Faso, Mauritania and the Niger.

    • The risk of food insecurity is growing in northern Mali, where it is estimated that 585 000 people are food insecure and 1.2 million are at risk of food insecurity.

    • Based on current estimates, for 2013 FAO is requesting a total of USD 135.3 million to support almost 6 million people with livelihood interventions in the Sahel, including those related to the Malian conflict. To start the operations for the main agricultural campaign (May – October 2013), USD 99 million are immediately required, from which USD 6 million will be allocated to interventions in northern Mali.

    • Aggravated by existing chronic vulnerabilities, the negative effects of the recent crises in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012 remain. Vulnerable people have eroded their capacity to withstand external shocks and many continue to be heavily indebted and have been unable to restore their productive means. Time is of the essence for building resilience to strengthen the livelihoods of the most vulnerable people.


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    Source: World Bank
    Country: Mali, Mauritania, Senegal

    LES POINTS MARQUANTS

    • Un projet plurinational financé par la Banque mondiale a contribué à améliorer les conditions de vie de milliers de familles dans le bassin du fleuve Sénégal.
    • Une gestion conjointe des ressources en eau favorise la réduction de la pauvreté
    • Le programme régional d’investissement multisectoriel a permis de réduire le taux de malaria dans la région de manière significative

    DAKAR, le 3 avril 2013. Près du village sénégalais de Sadel, à cinq heures de piste au nord-est de Dakar, les marchés qui bordent le fleuve Sénégal sont très animés. Grâce aux progrès de l’irrigation, on vend ici des pastèques, des courges, des tomates et même du riz. Et dans les eaux du fleuve alentour, la perche abonde. Les habitants vivent presque exclusivement des ressources que leur procure le cours d’eau ; autant dire que la santé du fleuve Sénégal leur est vitale.

    La situation aujourd’hui est bien différente de celle qui prévalait en 2006, quand la Banque mondiale a décidé d’allouer 110 millions de dollars à un projet visant à promouvoir une gestion intégrée des ressources en eau dans le bassin du fleuve Sénégal et développer ses usages multiples. Connu sous le sigle PGIRE, ce projet est un programme régional d’investissement multisectoriel portant sur la pêche, l’irrigation, la santé et la gestion des ressources en eau en Guinée, au Mali, en Mauritanie et au Sénégal. Il œuvre en étroite collaboration avec « l’Organisation pour la mise en valeur du fleuve Sénégal » (OMVS), créée en 1972 par le Mali, la Mauritanie et le Sénégal en vue d’améliorer l’utilisation et l’accès à l’eau dans ces trois pays.

    Selon certaines estimations, les stocks de poisson du fleuve Sénégal sont en hausse de près de 13 % depuis le lancement du projet. Et à en croire les riverains, les poissons sont non seulement plus nombreux mais ils sont aussi plus gros.

    « Comme il y a plus de poissons dans le fleuve, on se nourrit mieux et on gagne plus d’argent », confirme un pêcheur local tout en brandissant une perche de 60 centimètres.

    De plus, des travaux d’irrigation et une meilleure gestion des ressources en eau ont permis de remettre en état 1 780 hectares de terres agricoles. Les habitants peuvent donc désormais cultiver des espèces plus variées et sur des périodes prolongées. Ces nouvelles opportunités bénéficient tout particulièrement aux femmes, beaucoup étant tributaires de l’agriculture vivrière en tant que chefs de famille.

    Le retour des exilés ruraux

    Pour les 12 millions d’habitants du bassin du fleuve Sénégal, un bassin versant qui couvre plus de 1 % de la superficie émergée de l’Afrique, l’eau est une ressource vitale. Pendant les sept mois de la saison sèche, il ne tombe en moyenne pas plus de 2,5 mm de pluie par mois alors que la température peut atteindre 37 degrés Celsius. Non seulement les poissons du fleuve sont une source de nourriture, mais chaque année, pendant la saison des pluies, les crues permettent la reconstitution des éléments nutritifs des pâturages et jouent un rôle essentiel pour l’irrigation des cultures. Sans eau, l’herbe se fait plus rare et seules poussent quelques cultures tolérantes à la sécheresse.

    Il y a trente ans, le fleuve Sénégal constituait l’une des plus grandes zones de pêche en eau douce d’Afrique. Au fil du temps, la surexploitation des ressources halieutiques et la mise en valeur des berges sont venues menacer la pêche, provoquant la quasi-disparition de cette filière. Illustration concrète des arbitrages complexes dans le domaine du développement: si les barrages ont permis de doter la région d’infrastructures électriques et de télécommunications essentielles, ils ont aussi interrompu le cycle annuel des crues du fleuve, privant de nombreux agriculteurs d’un accès à l’eau pourtant indispensable.

    Selon des sources locales, la renaissance de la pêche incite ceux qui étaient partis s’installer à Dakar, la capitale, il y a plus de dix ans, à revenir aujourd’hui dans la région. Le fleuve offrant aujourd’hui plus d’opportunités, ces anciens exilés ruraux sont désormais en mesure de gagner leur vie dans les villes et les villages qui le bordent. Ils retrouvent ainsi les poissons, les pâturages et les familles qu’ils avaient fait jadis le choix douloureux de quitter.

    Et pour les villageois du bassin du fleuve Sénégal, à Sadel, comme ailleurs, les effets de ce programme, qui vise à améliorer l’accès aux marchés et promouvoir une pêche durable via une meilleure gestion des ressources en eau, commencent à se faire sentir.

    « Cette approche globale de gestion du bassin fluvial permet de développer les infrastructures, en impactant de manière positive plusieurs secteurs qu’il s’agisse de l’agriculture, l’alimentation en eau, l’énergie, la navigation ou encore la santé», explique Shelley McMillian, spécialiste des ressources en eau à la Banque mondiale, qui dirige l’équipe chargée de ce projet.

    Selon cette dernière, quand des pays qui possèdent des ressources en eau communes parviennent à les gérer ensemble, les bénéfices qui en découlent n’affectent pas seulement le secteur de l’eau. Cette gestion conjointe favorise en effet la réduction de la pauvreté, la limitation des émissions de carbone, l’essor du commerce régional et la stabilité.

    « Ce projet destiné à développer les usages multiples du bassin du fleuve Sénégal va entraîner de véritables transformations », indique Colin Bruce, directeur de la stratégie, des opérations, de l’intégration régionale et des partenariats pour la région Afrique de la Banque mondiale. « Il illustre les résultats concrets que nous obtenons grâce au programme d’intégration régionale, à savoir des solutions déployées sur plusieurs pays et en mesure de faire durablement reculer la pauvreté», ajoute-t-il.

    La première phase du PGIRE, qui doit s’achever au printemps 2013, a déjà produit des résultats remarquables La seconde phase est actuellement en préparation et sera présentée en juillet au conseil d’administration de la Banque mondiale. Jusqu’ici, l’une des grandes réussites de ce projet a été l’entrée officielle de la Guinée au sein de l’OMVS, qui compte désormais quatre pays et leur offre un cadre de collaboration régionale pour la gestion de leurs ressources en eau. C’est la seconde fois seulement que la Banque a obtenu un tel accord relatif aux traités internationaux sur l’eau (le premier étant le traité sur l’eau de l’Indus en 1960).

    Mais, aux yeux d’Ould Merzoug, le haut-commissaire de l’OMVS, dans un bassin fluvial où le paludisme et la bilharziose augmentent la mortalité maternelle et infantile et empêchent les adultes de travailler ou les enfants d’aller à l’école, l’amélioration de la situation sanitaire constitue peut-être le résultat le plus remarquable.

    Grâce à ce programme qui comporte un volet de prévention et d’éradication de ces deux maladies incapacitantes, un recul considérable de leur prévalence a été enregistré dans la région. Dans la zone couverte par le projet, 83 % des enfants de moins de cinq ans dorment désormais sous une moustiquaire, ce qui a fait chuter le taux de prévalence du paludisme chez ce groupe particulièrement vulnérable. Par ailleurs, dans certaines zones, la distribution régulière de médicaments a presque fait disparaître la bilharziose.

    « Le fait d’avoir entrepris cet investissement social dans le bassin du fleuve Sénégal est pour moi une source de satisfaction particulière, confie le haut-commissaire de l’OMVS. Grâce au [PGIRE], nous avons réalisé des avancées concrètes dans notre combat contre cette triple tragédie humaine que constituent la pauvreté, la maladie et la faim».


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    Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid department
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger
    1. MAJOR CHANGES SINCE PREVIOUS VERSION OF THE HIP

    Since the 11 January start to the intervention in Northern Mali, on-going military operations continue and are expanding further north. French and Malian armed forces have reached Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal without meeting major resistance.

    Prior to withdrawing, jihadists are reported to have looted cereal banks and health centers in numerous locations. The Algerian border has remained closed reducing commercial trade and market activity in northern regions of Mali already seriously affected by food insecurity. Due to military interventions, disruptions along the commercial cereal supply route from Mopti to the north have also been reported by WFP. Markets in general are under-stocked or closed. Prices have increased drastically (millet from 275 to 380 FCFA/kg; rice from 350 to 460 FCFA/kg; fuel from 600 to 1000 FCFA/litre).

    A joint WFP/SAP (Systeme d'Alerte Precoce/ Early Warning System) survey, conducted in August/September 2012, already indicated a difficult food insecurity situation. IDPs and host families in three northern regions, Kidal, Gao, Timbuktu and parts of Mopti are the most affected by food insecurity, with nearly half of the population in Kidal region (45,4%), 36,2% in Gao and 31,2% in Timbuktu, being severely or moderately food insecure.

    Despite major challenges in gaining access to areas controlled by rebel groups, the ICRC and WFP (with its implementing NGO partners) have successfully coordinated and implemented a major food assistance programme between July - December 2012 for more than 900,000 people, including the 220,000 IDPs.

    ICRC and WFP are now planning food assistance for an additional 10 months, from January to October 2013, in response to the evolving situation. The ICRC is preparing a major budget increase from the initial 2013 plan.

    Population movements, as a result of the new fighting following the military intervention, are being reported in all regions but still at a relatively low scale. OCHA have reported 21,645 new refugees (as of 11 February). IOM is reporting 15,715 additional internally displaced (IDPs) from North to South and 2,309 from South to North. There are limited numbers of returns so far. Information remains, however, incomplete and not fully up to date due to insecurity and access constraints. This brings the total number of IDPs to over 260,000 and the total number of refugees to date to over 170,000.
    Many of these IDPs expressed willingness of return only when security conditions will be met. This extra caseload of returnees population will have to be included into ongoing projects that DG ECHO has been funding since the beginning of the crisis in northern regions. There are additional needs in the health, nutrition and food assistance sectors. Based on above reported needs, DG ECHO has decided to allocate an additional EUR 22 million to this HIP to meet outstanding needs linked to the consequences of military intervention in Mali


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    Source: UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
    Country: Mali

    Maiga Hadizatou Hamzatou teaches at the Ouleimatou school in the northern Malian city of Gao, Mali. In an interview with UNESCO, she describes the disruption caused to schooling and everyday life when the city was invaded on 31 March 2012.

    How was schooling disrupted?

    The jihadists started ransacking the schools the day after the invasion. Not one book was left. They took furniture and computer equipment if any. The schools were still closed for the holidays.

    A parent came to warn me. I set off with two of my children, opened the school, and rescued as many textbooks as I could before they came.

    Girls and boys had to be taught apart, and we did not have the capacity to double all the classes. Many teachers fled to the south. So most classes closed down - but we kept the exam class going.

    What exam were students preparing and how did you keep the class going?

    Our director, Ms Ouleimatou, asked teachers and civil society to ensure the continuation of the DF (Diplôme du fin d’études fondamentales) school-leaving examination class. There were 160 students in the class, 90% of them were girls. 130 stayed. Ten girls continued their schooling in the south.

    As a woman teacher, what were your main problems?

    Women were forbidden to travel around without wearing a veil. All women and girls were forced to wear them – even baby girls as young as one year old. The jihadists threatened “correction” if they refused.

    Also, transport to school and everywhere else was disrupted as all vehicles, including motorbikes, had been commandeered.

    Did girls and women resist wearing the veil?

    At first there was a spontaneous demonstration against it by about 100 women and girls of all ages. Many of my girl students were there. The spokesman for the jihadists, Abdulhakib, tried to reason with us, saying that soon all of West Africa would be under the same regime.

    However, because of the atmosphere of intimidation, we later encouraged our girl students to wear the veil to school so as not to attract attention.

    What form did the intimidation take?

    They patrolled the streets with Khalashnikovs. Their black flag was everywhere. They transformed the town hall into a place of “correction”. There were constant threats on the radio.

    They punished women if they were seen with a man who was not a brother, husband or father. One of my students, Ailguaïchatou (aged 15) got a public whipping because she got a lift from a neighbour on his motorbike. He was whipped as well.

    Were parents afraid to send their daughters to school?

    Yes, parents kept girls at home for fear they would be assaulted. Another of my students, Bouchirza (aged 16) was raped by three of the extremists on her way to school. She never returned to class.

    Did you have to modify the content of your teaching for the exam class?

    No: we were free to teach the prescribed programme. Apart from physical education, which they outlawed, the jihadists didn’t look too closely at the curriculum. They didn’t have the intellectual baggage. So for example, we continued teaching the students about sexually transmitted diseases.

    Did the students complete their examination course?

    Yes, in spite of all the obstacles they were finally able to sit their exams last October in Sevare, a 546-km journey from Gao. UNICEF helped with travel and accommodation as it took five days in all for a three-day exam.

    Interview by Jean O’Sullivan


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    Source: UN Security Council
    Country: Mali

    I. Introduction 1.

    The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2085 (2012) of 20 December 2012, in which the Council requested that I report on the implementation of the resolution. The report summarizes major political and security developments in Mali since the adoption of the resolution and outlines the multidimensional response of the United Nations to the crisis, while making recommendations on the way forward. The report also responds to the request of the Council as conveyed in a letter from the President of the Council to the Secretary-General dated 27 February 2013 (S/2013/129), to include in the report recommendations for the Council’s consideration on options for establishing a United Nations peacekeeping operation, with regard to the letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Council, dated 25 February, by which a letter from the interim President of Mali, Dioncounda Traoré, was transmitted to the Council (S/2013/113), in which the interim President envisages the transformation of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) into a United Nations stabilization and peacekeeping operation.


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    Source: UN Security Council
    Country: Mali

    I. Introduction

    1. Présenté en application de la résolution 2085 (2012) du Conseil de sécurité en date du 20 décembre 2012, par laquelle le Conseil m’a prié de lui rendre compte de la mise en oeuvre de ladite résolution, le présent rapport retrace l’évolution de la situation politique et sécuritaire au Mali depuis l’adoption de la résolution, présente l’action multidimensionnelle menée par l’ONU face à la crise, et formule des recommandations sur la voie à suivre. Ce rapport fait également suite à la lettre du Président du Conseil de sécurité en date du 27 février (S/2013/129), par laquelle le Conseil m’a prié de proposer différentes modalités de création d’une opération de maintien de la paix des Nations Unies, compte tenu de la lettre en date du 25 février (S/2013/113), par laquelle j’ai transmis au Président du Conseil la lettre dans laquelle le Président par intérim du Mali, Dioncounda Traoré, évoque la transformation de la Mission internationale de soutien au Mali sous conduite africaine (MISMA) en opération de stabilisation et de maintien de la paix de l’ONU.

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    Source: UN Security Council
    Country: Mali

    SC/10966

    6944th Meeting (AM)

    Highlights Importance of Transition Road Map, Which Includes July Elections; Council Also Hears from Mali; Côte d’Ivoire, speaking for West African States

    While welcoming the announcement by Mali’s interim Government that it would organize presidential elections by the end of July 2013, the United Nations top political official told the Security Council today that nearly one year after a military coup threw the country into turmoil, “concerted, broad-based” measures were needed to tackle its serious and closely linked challenges.

    “[Those challenges] go beyond addressing security threats and require tackling the deep-rooted political, governance, development and humanitarian challenges that are not susceptible to any easy solution,” said Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, who briefed Council members on the Secretary-General’s latest report on Mali (document S/2013/189), and outlined options for a possible United Nations stabilization mission in the country.

    “In the interplay between political and security priorities, it is of critical importance to ensure the security imperative does not detract from the primacy of politics in Mali, in both the short and long term,” he said. Also, in addition to a national dialogue, multiple dialogues need to take place between and within communities and between various actors, including the Malian armed forces. Dialogue and reconciliation efforts must also be linked to justice measures to ensure that there was no impunity for the human rights violations that had been perpetrated.

    Noting interim President Dioncounda Traoré’s indication that the transitional Government intended to hold elections by 31 July 2013, he said that the Secretariat had been encouraged by the Malian authority’s commitment to move rapidly towards the polls, “a fundamental benchmark in restoring the constitutional order”. In addition, declarations by leaders of the transitional Government not to stand in those elections further demonstrated the authorities’ commitment to free and fair elections.

    Mindful of how much work would be required to meet the July deadline, the United Nations had offered its support for their free, fair and credible conduct in keeping with international standards. While encouraging the Malian authorities to ensure the entire process was as inclusive as possible, he said that areas of concern included, on the security side, the still-volatile conditions in northern Mali and, on the political side, the absence so far of reconciliation, which limited space for constructive political debate.

    “We hope that ongoing security operations, as well as the appointment of the National Commission [for Dialogue and Reconciliation], will help overcome these difficulties and help create the essential conditions for credible elections,” he said, agreeing with Malian authorities that a legitimate Government reflecting the will of Mali’s diverse population needed to be in place by the end of 2013.

    To that end, he told Council members that the adoption of a road map for the transition in January remained a vital political achievement, and that it had highlighted two priority tasks for the transitional Government: the restoration of territorial integrity and the organization of free and fair elections. The road map also provided for reform of the armed forces and dialogue with groups to renounce terrorism and adhere to the unitary nature of Mali and its Constitution.

    Among other measures, the transitional Government had established the National Commission, and on 30 March, the interim President had appointed Mohamed Salia Sokana, a former Defence Minister, as President of that body, as well as Traore Uomu Toure and Meti Ag Mohamed Rhissa as its two Vice-Presidents, he said.

    “The appointment of a woman and a Tuareg as Vice-Presidents of this Commission is consistent with the transitional authorities’ repeated assurances that inclusiveness and plurality will be foundation blocks of the political process moving forward,” he said, stressing that the United Nations would provide the Commission “all the assistance we possibly can”, as well as support to the mediation process being carried out through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

    In that regard, the United Nations Office in Mali was providing good offices aimed at facilitating contacts between the Government and those groups that wished to take part in the search for political solutions to the crisis, while the United Nations Office in West Africa continued to closely coordinate with and support regional efforts.

    He went on to say that strengthening the capacity and legitimacy of the State and political system at all levels remained a priority for the United Nations and Malian political leaders. “The coup d’état of 22 March 2012 and the crisis in northern Mali are, in large measure, manifestations of a crisis of governance that encompasses endemic corruption, weak State capacity to provide basic services and the low level of legitimacy of State institutions and the political system,” he explained. As such, the United Nations hoped that a broad and inclusive Malian-led political process could begin to address the abiding challenges that must be overcome for Mali to achieve long-term political stability and economic prosperity.

    Turning to specifics highlighted in the report, he said that while humanitarian access had improved in some parts of Mali, the situation remained “highly volatile”, particularly in Timbuktu and Gao. Currently, more than 470,000 people were estimated to have fled and sought refuge either in Malian host communities or in neighbouring countries.

    Mr. Feltman said that more than 290,000 people were internally displaced and about 177,000 were refugees in Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso. He said that some 750,000 people were in need of immediate food assistance and 660,000 children were at risk of malnutrition in 2013, including 210,000 at risk of severe acute malnutrition. Further, he said that access to basic social services was limited, in particular in the north — in the regions of Timbuktu and Gao, for example, only 50,000 out of 200,000 pupils had access to education.

    The United Nations was also monitoring the human rights situation, in particular reports of serious violations in northern Mali, including summary executions and illegal arrests, as well as destruction and looting of property. “Although arbitrary acts of violence against Tuaregs and Arabs have recently decreased, there is still a risk of reprisal against members of these communities, who are alleged to be associated with the armed groups,” he said, adding that worryingly, there were now reports that new patterns of human rights violations were emerging, including retaliatory attacks based on ethnicity.

    He recalled that the Human Rights Council had appointed a Special Rapporteur on Mali earlier this month, and that the United Nations Office in Mali’s human rights team was rapidly expanding, with a view to deploying mobile teams to Mopti, Gao and Timbuktu as soon as security conditions permitted. In meetings and conversations with United Nations officials, authorities in Bamako have repeatedly stated their commitment to international human rights standards and practices, he added.

    Continuing to highlight elements of the Secretary-General’s report, he said there had been significant security improvements in Mali as a result of the French and African military operations alongside the Malian army in northern areas. Already by the end of January, State control had been restored in most major northern towns thanks to the efforts of Malians and other African forces, with critical support from French troops. Re-deployment of civilian authorities has started in Timbuktu and Gao.

    Nevertheless, despite the real and significant gains on the ground stemming from the efforts of French, African and Malian forces, he said, the security situation “remains challenging”. Combat continued with armed groups in the Adrar des Ifoghas Mountains and in the periphery of some urban centres — Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. More fighting had occurred in Timbuktu this weekend, with humanitarian partners reporting a parallel increase in criminality around Timbuktu. “Armed groups are proving mobile in the combat areas, and there have been reported cases of infiltration in urban zones, including Bamako,” he said, adding that the continued planting of mines was hampering humanitarian activities and endangering civilians.

    On the work of the United Nations Office in Mali, he said that office’s Chief, David Gressly, had visited Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal and Tessalit from 29 to 31 March. In his discussions, Mr. Gressly had learned about the return of the Governors of Timbuktu and Gao, whom he met. “This is an important first step in the restoration of State authority to those regions,” Mr. Feltman said, adding that, according to Malian authorities, that would be followed by reestablishment of justice and security services, as well as other organs of civil administration at the regional and local levels.

    As for the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), he said that United Nations had strengthened its support for the planning and preparations for the deployment and operations of that Mission. United Nations military planners had, among other tasks, helped in establishing coordination mechanisms, assisted AFISMA and the Malian armed forces in identifying priority needs and supported development of key documents, including operational directives, guidelines for the protection of civilians, rules of engagement and a code of conduct. The United Nations works in close cooperation with the African Union and ECOWAS and other partners in supporting AFISMA, he added.

    He went on to note that the Secretary-General had deployed a multi-disciplinary exploratory mission to Mali from 10 to 16 March to develop recommendations on options for establishing a United Nations peacekeeping operation in the country. Highlighting the key observations and recommendations that the Secretary-General has made in his report, Mr. Feltman said that the serious and inter-linked challenges that confront Mali required concerted and broad-based efforts by the Malian authorities and people, together with significant international support.

    With respect to the security challenges, the report stated that a key question was the extent to which the United Nations could or should assume responsibility for security and stabilization, which, ultimately, would need to serve as an incentive to engage in a viable political process. It noted that humanitarian actors had raised increasing concerns about the possible deployment of a United Nations force in Mali and the need to retain a clear distinction between the humanitarian and political/security agendas to ensure the impartiality of humanitarian action, avoid threatening the safety of aid workers and to guarantee humanitarian access to all those in need.

    He said that Secretary-General Ban had proposed two options for the Organization’s engagement in Mali. “Under either option, the UN would maintain a strong focus on the political aspects linked to the creation of suitable conditions for elections and reconciliation,” he said. Under the first option, a United Nations multidimensional integrated political presence would operate alongside AFISMA. The United Nations would continue its political and human rights activities under a strengthened political mission.

    In this scenario, the strategic areas of focus would include: good offices; support for mediation and national and community dialogues; assistance to the electoral process; promotion of respect for human rights, including with respect to women and children; and support for AFISMA. Further, AFISMA would be responsible for security, together with bilateral military efforts, in support of the Malian defence and security forces. “AFISMA would also have an offensive combat and stabilization mandate focusing on extremist armed groups,” he added.

    As for the second option, he said that scenario involved the establishment of a multidimensional integrated stabilization mission under a Chapter VII mandate, alongside a parallel force. In addition to a political mandate, the Mission would carry out security-related stabilization tasks, protect civilians and create the conditions for the provision of humanitarian assistance. The Mission would operate under robust rules of engagement with a mandate to use all necessary means to address threats to the implementation of its mandate, possibly including conducting operations independently of or in cooperation with the Malian defence and security forces

    Under this option, he said, the bulk of AFISMA would be re-hatted under a United Nations stabilization mission. Most of the military, police and civilian components would operate in the north, with a light presence in Bamako. “Given the anticipated level and nature of the residual threat, there would be a fundamental requirement for a parallel force to operate in Mali alongside the UN stabilization mission to conduct major combat and counter-terrorism operations and provide specialist support beyond the scope of the UN mandate and capability,” he said.

    He explained that the two options could be viewed as phases in the gradual process of transition from the current situation to a United Nations stabilization mission deployed alongside a parallel force. They took into account the fact that the United Nations was operating in a “new geopolitical context and faces threats that have not been encountered before in a peacekeeping context”. The situation on the ground remained fluid, and extremists and criminal elements continued to pose a significant threat to the safety and security of civilians and United Nations personnel in Mali.

    Mr. Feltman said the Secretary-General observed that it would be of critical importance that a clear distinction is maintained between the core peacekeeping tasks of an envisaged stabilization mission and the peace enforcement and counter-terrorism activities of a parallel force. “Any blurring of that distinction would place severe constraints on the ability of United Nations humanitarian, development, human rights and other personnel to safely do their work,” he said.

    In the same vein, he said that, given that the crisis in Mali was part of serious wider regional challenges, it would be essential to coordinate support to Mali within a broader regional strategy that incorporated Mali’s neighbours and key partners in the process.

    On that front, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to West Africa, Said Djinnit, continued to work with ECOWAS countries on a shared approach towards the security and political challenges in Mali and beyond. In addition, the regional strategy that the United Nations was leading in developing for the Sahel should be viewed as a complementary and indispensable process. Further, the Secretary-General had met with his Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, on 1 April, on the Organization’s overall approach to the region, with a focus on what the international community could do to support the people of the Sahel.

    Following that presentation, Oumar Daou of Mali then told the Council that his Government welcomed the Secretary-General’s report, which largely covered its concerns regarding the efforts under way to arrive at a lasting solution to the serious crisis that currently gripped the country. The President had recently underscored that the international presence in Mali must be configured to provide the utmost support to restoring peace, territorial integrity and State authority throughout the country.

    Yet, today, recent incidents in the north of Mali indicated that such peace stability and total liberation of national territory had not been achieved. Indeed, the Secretary-General had highlighted that armed extremists were resorting to new, asymmetric tactics, such as guerrilla ambushes, suicide attacks, car bombings and the laying of anti-personnel land mines. Worse, those same armed groups were melting into the local population to commit further crimes. He said while Malian, French and African troops had been able to repel the actions of those extremists in some areas, terrorist targets, such as Kidal, Tessalit, Gao, Timbuktu and other urban centres, must be secured. Areas attacked in recent months must be secured.

    Highlighting deadly attacks by extremists that had been taking place sporadically since February, he said that while he could go “on and on” listing the violent activities of narco-jihadist groups and their secessionist allies, he would simply stress for Council members that the “deadly and recurrent bursts of violence fanned” by terrorist groups were serious obstacles to rebuilding the Malian State, as well as to the return of internally displaced persons and refugees living in other countries. Such violence also imperilled efforts to create a calm environment in which free and fair elections could be held. It was also a threat to peace and security in the entire region, he said

    Mali must regain control of all its territory, he declared, stressing the need to disarm all terrorist groups, including the National Movement for the Liberation of Azwad. Moreover, Mali’s army and security forces must be strengthened so that they could effectively carry out their duties. He paid tribute to French and African troops and all those that had responded to Mali’s calls for assistances and who had made significant sacrifices to protect and restore the honour and dignity of the Malian people and give them renewed hope.

    Turning next to the Secretary-General’s proposals for transforming AFISMA, he said that the Malian Government preferred the second option, which included the deployment of a multi-dimensional United Nations integrated stabilization mission under Chapter VII, as a complement to a parallel force “whose objective will be to carry out large-scale anti-terrorist and combat operations”. The Malian Government was convinced that following such a path would help stabilize the country and create conditions for national reconciliation.

    On the establishment of the Commission for national reconciliation, he said the Government’s commitment to that body and its successful operation clearly showed that “no stone would be left unturned” by the highest authorities in the country to ensure peace and stability. As for the 2013 elections, he said that, despite the challenges and complexities that process would entail, there were grounds for hope that Mali, with the assistance of the international community, would meet the challenges it faced and turn a new page in the country’s history.

    Taking the floor next, Youssoufou Bamba of Côte d’Ivoire, speaking on behalf of ECOWAS, agreed that there had been solid developments in Mali, especially in the combat being waged by allied forces against jihadist groups and their strongholds in the north. In light of such progress, ECOWAS had stressed that it was essential to strengthen AFISMA “with all necessary financial and material resources as soon as possible”, so that it could effectively take over operations from French forces in the near future.

    He said that ECOWAS looked forward to the transformation of AFISMA into a United Nations stabilization mission with a Chapter VII mandate. Estimates had shown that such a mission would require some 11,200 military troops and 1,400 police officers, and “urgent measures” must be taken now to ensure their effective deployment. To this end, he informed the Council that Burkina Faso, Niger, Togo, Nigeria, Chad, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and Gambia were among the countries that had stepped forward to express interest in providing infantry battalions to the re-shaped mission.

    He noted that AFISMA now stood at only 84 per cent of its approved deployment level, and as such, efforts must be taken to scale up force generation, especially in time for the mission to be transformed into a United Nations-backed peacekeeping operation with a robust mandate. That was the desire of the Malian Government, and ECOWAS supported that call. He said that ECOWAS also supported Mali’s call for the creation of a parallel force that would be tasked with rapidly repelling terrorist elements from the country.

    It was an “incontrovertible fact” that AFISMA must be transformed, because Mali urgently needed multi-dimensional assistance that encompassed activities in the security and humanitarian assistance spheres, as well as human rights and support for the political dialogue and electoral processes. “These are things that only a United Nations peace operation can achieve,” he said. Such a formula, ECOWAS believed, was the surest route to stabilizing the country and ensuring an environment for speedy implementation of the transitional road map, particularly towards holding presidential elections. ECOWAS also called for strengthened efforts to disarm and address the status of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad.

    The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and adjourned at 10:53 a.m.

    For information media • not an official record


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    04/04/2013 21:17 GMT

    BAMAKO, 04 avr 2013 (AFP) - Le ministre malien de l'Administration du territoire, Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, a affirmé jeudi à Bamako n'avoir "aucun doute par rapport" au calendrier prévoyant l'organisation avant fin juillet des élections au Mali, alors que la situation reste instable dans le Nord.

    A la question de savoir si les élections pourraient se tenir avant fin juillet, comme annoncé par le président intérimaire malien Dioncounda Traoré et souhaité notamment par la France, M. Coulibaly, un colonel de l'armée malienne, a répondu: "nous n'avons aucun doute par rapport à cette date".

    Le ministre, qui n'a toutefois pas précisé de dates, s'exprimait à l'issue d'une réunion à Bamako dirigée par le Premier ministre malien Diango Cissoko avec différents acteurs concernés par la préparation des élections.

    Le président Traoré avait affirmé fin janvier à Addis Abeba qu'il espérait pouvoir organiser des élections avant le 31 juillet, alors que des troupes françaises et africaines sont engagées depuis le 11 janvier dans des opérations pour reconquérir le nord du Mali, tombé en 2012 aux mains de groupes islamistes armés.

    "Nous avons suffisamment de financement à ce jour pour nous permettre d'envisager sereinement les échéances de juillet afin de conduire les élections. Nous allons probablement organiser d'abord la présidentielle et si c'est possible si c'est possible, coupler (avec les législatives), mais pour le moment, nous sommes en train d'envisager plusieurs options", a déclaré jeudi le colonel Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, sans préciser de montant.

    Récemment il avait estimé à l'antenne d'une radio à "environ 50 milliards de FCFA" (plus de 76 millions d'euros) le coût de l'organisation des élections.

    Le ministre a, par ailleurs, a évoqué 6,9 millions électeurs "potentiels", et indiqué que le fichier électoral sera "en principe" biométrique, c'est-à-dire avec l'utilisation de la photo et des empreintes digitales de l'électeur sur sa carte.

    "Nous allons identifier les électeurs à partir du dernier recensement administratif à vocation d'état civil. (...) Une petite relecture de la loi électorale est nécessaire pour nous permettre d'introduire ces changements dans la loi", a-t-il ajouté.

    Selon lui, le Mali a décidé d'inscrire "les déplacés dans les bureaux de vote de leur choix" afin de leur permettre de participer au vote. Et "pour les réfugiés (dans les pays voisins), nous sommes en contact avec la Mauritanie, l'Algérie, le Niger, le Burkina Faso, et le Haut commissariat aux réfugiés (HCR) pour voir comment permettre à nos compatriotes de voter en juillet", a-t-il dit.

    Selon des chiffres de l'ONU, il y avait fin mars plus de 470.000 Maliens déplacés à l'intérieur du pays ou réfugiés dans des pays voisins.

    La France insiste depuis des semaines sur la nécessité d'avoir au minimum une élection présidentielle en juillet. Le sujet sera à l'agenda des discussions prévues vendredi à Bamako entre les autorités maliennes et le ministre français des Affaires étrangères Laurent Fabius en visite officielle.

    L'armée française a chassé les islamistes des grandes villes qu'ils contrôlaient dans le vaste Nord malien et est engagée avec les militaires tchadiens dans la traque des jihadistes réfugiés dans le massif des Ifoghas (extrême nord-est) mais la situation sécuritaire reste instable, avec des attentats suicides et incursions de combattants islamistes dans certaines localités.

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    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria
    preview


    KEY MESSAGES

    • There is Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity across most of the region, except for pockets of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in areas affected by flooding, market disruptions, weak purchasing power, and poor agropastoral performance. In the hardest hit conflict affected areas of northern Mali and northeastern Nigeria, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity is expected in the upcoming months.

    • In areas of Niger, northern Nigeria, and northern Mali, poor access to food due to rising food prices could cause nutritional indicators to decline well before the start of the lean season (mid-June to mid-September).

    • Staple food crop losses (primarily to tubers) in Nigeria could cause a consumer substitution effect which, in turn, could tighten the supply of cereals across the region. Close monitoring ofseasonal trade flowsfrom of Nigeria is needed, particularly starting in March/April, to determine the magnitude of this effect on regional demand and prices.


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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria
    preview


    Food insecurity increases in northern Mali and localized areas of Nigeria

    KEY MESSAGES

    • There is Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity across most of the region, except for pockets of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in areas affected by flooding, market disruptions, weak purchasing power, and poor agropastoral performance. In the hardest hit conflict affected areas of northern Mali and northeastern Nigeria, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity is expected in the upcoming months.

    • In areas of Niger, northern Nigeria, and northern Mali, poor access to food due to rising food prices could cause nutritional indicators to decline well before the start of the lean season (mid-June to mid-September).

    • Staple food crop losses (primarily to tubers) in Nigeria could cause a consumer substitution effect which, in turn, could tighten the supply of cereals across the region. Close monitoring ofseasonal trade flowsfrom of Nigeria is needed, particularly starting in March/April, to determine the magnitude of this effect on regional demand and prices.


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    Source: IRIN
    Country: Niger

    NIAMEY, 5 April 2013 (IRIN) - Niger is seeking to end its chronic food shortages through an ambitious agricultural transformation plan - but the plan will have to meet the demands of a fast-growing population living in a mostly desert country that also faces threats to its security.

    When he came to power in 2011, President Issoufou Mahamadou said: "As evidenced in the last election, our people have gained political freedom; now it remains to attain freedom from hunger." Some 6.4 million Nigeriens faced hunger during the 2011-2012 Sahel food crisis.

    A year later, Mahamdou's government launched the so-called 3N Initiative - Les Nigériens Nourissent les Nigériens [Nigeriens Feeding Nigeriens] - a broad strategy touching on food, the environment, energy and industrial transformation, estimated to cost $2 billion in the initial 2012-2015 phase of the project.

    Humanitarian groups active in Niger point out the proactive approach taken by the new administration aims to combat both food insecurity and malnutrition, heralding it as an example to other crisis-prone Sahel countries.

    Mahamadou's predecessor, Mamadou Tandja, who was ousted in a February 2010 coup, had come under intense criticism over his handling of food crises in the 2000s. Some critics said he refused to accept that there were serious food shortages due to pride and a deep mistrust of NGOs.

    "Niger faces drought once in every two years. Even in a good year, there is a part of the population that still remains vulnerable. Drought is the main threat to agriculture in our country. It's responsible for 80 percent of losses in terms of agricultural output," said Amadou Allahoury Diallo, the high commissioner of the 3N Initiative.

    A tall order

    Only 12 percent of Niger's territory can sustain farming. But with a growth rate of 3.3 percent, it has one of the world's fastest growing populations. The population doubled between 1988 and 2010, rising from around seven million to some 15 million, according to official statistics. Just 1 percent of the territory - in the extreme west - receives more than 600mm of rain per year.

    "The output from the 3-4 months of the rainy season is what feeds the population for the 12 months of the year. This should change," Diallo told IRIN. "Eighty percent of the population depends on agriculture. We have no choice but to develop agriculture."

    Some observers say it will be impossible for Niger to attain food security given the harsh climate, poverty and population pressure. The 3N Initiative's to-do list ranges from introducing modern technology and equipping farmers with better seeds and implements to improving agricultural financing and market management.

    The latest scheme is hardly unprecedented; previous Nigerien governments initiated self-sustenance strategies. However, Diallo argued that strong political will by Mahamadou's administration and better government coordination set the 3N initiative apart from its precursors.

    "In the past, food security was spearheaded by development partners rather than the ruling party, and each ministry worked with different partners. There was no centralized leadership," he noted.

    Niger fell from growing enough food, and even being an exporter of cereals, in the 1960s, to a state of chronic shortages due to recurrent droughts that became more frequent in the last decade.

    Locust invasions, unstable food prices and political instability have also gnawed away at the country's food security. In Niger - and across much of the Sahel - staple cereal prices are above the five-year average. Prices of millet, the staple for Nigerien households, is at 30 percent above the five-year average, said the Famine Early Warning System Network, attributing the rise to strong demand by institutions and other private buyers.

    "Good harvests do not necessarily mean food security. There is the question of accessibility. Poor families spend much of their income on buying food, and when the prices go up they suffer a huge impact," said Wim Fransen, the Niger head of office for the European Commission's humanitarian aid arm (ECHO).

    "There should be a diversification and improvement of food production, management of natural resources, especially water, and an improvement the market system for better food distribution," said Vincenzo Galastro, the International Fund for Agricultural Development's programme manager for West and Central Africa.

    "The Niger government has made food security a priority. We think it's a very positive step," he added.

    Durability

    But Niger has also had to respond to the crisis in neighbouring Mali, sending troops there as part of a West African stabilization force and stepping up internal security - moves with budgetary repercussions on its food security strategy.

    "The government had pledged to use most of the resources from uranium and oil [receipts] to finance the agricultural sector. Unfortunately, Niger also faces insecurity problems owing to the Mali crisis, which diverted some of the resources to security," said Diallo. "Insecurity and food security are the government's main priorities."

    As with Niger's previous strategies, the 3N Initiative could last only as long as the regime that created it, but Diallo said the government was working on legislation to ensure the self-sustenance aims are spared the vagaries of politics.

    "We are going to develop an agriculture policy to be adopted as a law that would be enforceable even after this government," he said.

    The Food and Agriculture Organization representative in Niger, Aboubakar Doualé Waïss, argued that food security is an unavoidable issue for any government in the Sahel, meaning Mahamdaou's involvement in the 3N Initiative would not have to limit the programme to the duration of his administration.

    "There must be a strong engagement at the highest level of government. Moreover, it's one of the policies for which the president was elected. It's natural that he be at the heart of his strategy," Waïss told IRIN.

    "We are convinced that this programme will continue under whatever name it will be given. In any Sahel country, food security is vital. Whoever comes to power, food and nutritional security will remain part of their problem."

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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Mali, Niger, Nigeria
    preview


    Faits saillants

    • Réfugiés maliens de Tillia : les opérations de relocalisation ont démarré
    • Sécurité alimentaire: Agadez double ses productions maraîchères
    • Parler du genre en situations d’urgence ne signifie pas parler des femmes

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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    04/05/2013 11:24 GMT

    BAMAKO, 05 avr 2013 (AFP) - La principale association de ressortissants du nord du Mali a dénoncé vendredi "des exactions" contre des populations noires dans la ville de Kidal (nord-est), attribuées à des membres de la rébellion touareg.

    "Sur la base d'informations concordantes et inquiétantes, nous apprenons que des exactions et des brimades sont exercées contre certaines populations noires de Kidal", indique un communiqué signé de Malick Alhousseini, président du Collectif des ressortissants du nord du Mali (Coren).

    "Des militants du MNLA (Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad, rébellion touareg) sont en train de procéder à une stigmatisation ethnique" dans cette ville, affirme le communiqué du Coren, principale association des ressortissants du nord du Mali.

    Kidal est la capitale de la région du même nom abritant le massif des Ifoghas où sont retranchés des combattants islamistes armés que les soldats français et africains traquent depuis plusieurs semaines.

    Selon le Coren, "des communiqués radiodiffusés"à Kidal ont exhorté tous ceux qui ne sont pas des "ressortissants de l'Azawad" (nord du Mali) à "retourner au Mali", soit dans le Sud.

    Il "constate que le MNLA, si prompt à accuser les forces armées et de sécurité du Mali, laisse, sinon encourage ses militants à mener des exactions à connotation raciste contre des Maliens sur la base de leur appartenance ethnique et de leur fidélité au Mali".

    Le MNLA a désigné fin mars "un administrateur" de Kidal, son fief du nord-est du Mali, un nouveau geste de défiance à l'égard du pouvoir de transition à Bamako après avoir refusé la présence de l'armée malienne dans la ville.

    Les rebelles touareg avaient déclaré l'indépendance de l'Azawad il y a un an avant d'y renoncer sous la pression internationale, mais réclament toujours l'autodétermination de cette région considérée comme le berceau des Touareg.

    Le MNLA a été à l'origine d'une offensive lancée en janvier 2012 avec des islamistes armés dans le nord du Mali ayant abouti à l'occupation totale de cette région par les jihadistes qui en avaient évincé les rebelles touareg.

    Ces accusations d'exactions contre les Noirs surviennent après celles attribuées à des soldats maliens contre les communautés touareg et arabes, souvent assimilées aux jihadistes.

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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger

    5,592 Malian refugees crossed into Niger last week. The refugees, mainly women and children, are from the regions of Kidal and Menaka and travelled by foot or on donkeys.

    They say they fled because of the ongoing war in northern Mali, and for fear of possible reprisals by the Malian army. The also said that more people are on their way to Niger.

    The refugees began arriving on March 28 and are staying at Mentes and Midal, in a remote desert area of northern Niger. Mentes is located at about 922 km from Niamey and 422 km from Tahoua where UNHCR is looking after 17,000 other Malian refugees. It takes a six hour-drive across desert to reach the area from Tahoua.

    Reception conditions are very precarious. The only available water - which contains clay - is drawn from pools. No health facilities are available. We are planning to relocate these refugees to Midal where we can better assist them and where there is a functioning well.

    Joint and separate missions with local authorities and our partner agency WFP have been organized to register new arrivals and distribute food and non-food items. 2,402 individuals who arrived before 28 March have already received aid while the rest will receive aid during the next round of distribution

    We are at present in the process of re-deploying staff and resources to this area, which had previously been without a refugee influx. Distributions of food and non-food assistance will continue. In addition, needs assessments and surveys are being organized to ascertain other needs.

    There are an estimated 175,076 Malian refugees in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and, Niger. This includes 37,530 people who fled since January. Among reported reasons for flight are insecurity, and confiscation of goods, plus fear of arbitrary arrests or detention and other human rights violations.

    For further information on this topic, please contact:

    • In Niger: Charlotte Arnaud on mobile + 227 92 19 19 03
    • In Bamako, Eduardo Cue on mobile +223 90 08 19 88
    • In Geneva, Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba on mobile +41 79 249 34 83

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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    04/05/2013 19:08 GMT
    by Cecile Feuillatre

    BAMAKO, April 05, 2013 (AFP) - The French foreign minister reassured Mali on Friday that France was not planning an "overnight" withdrawal of the troops it sent to liberate the west African nation from Al-Qaeda-linked rebels.

    Laurent Fabius, in Bamako to discuss the pullout scheduled for the end of April, said France would provide a permanent "support force" of 1,000 French soldiers after elections that the deeply-divided country has promised for July.

    "The international community has its eyes fixed on you. Restoring security is essential but restoring democratic dialogue is also essential. It rests on your shoulders," Fabius said.

    France sent 4,000 troops to Mali in January to block an advance on Bamako from the north by Islamist fighters.

    Paris is preparing to hand over to a UN-mandated African force of 6,300 in the coming weeks, placing a spotlight on Mali's poorly-paid, ill-equipped and badly-organised armed forces.

    "I'll tell my partners that we will not go overnight," Fabius told reporters, before announcing the support force.

    "France has proposed to the United Nations and the government of Mali a permanent support force of 1,000 French men in Mali, which will be equipped to fight terrorism," said Fabius, before leaving Bamako.

    The Malian military fell apart last year in the face of an uprising by ethnic Tuareg rebels who seized the country's vast arid north in the chaos following a March coup before losing control to well-armed Islamists.

    The extremists terrorised locals with amputations and executions performed under their brutal interpretation of sharia Islamic law.

    The French-led intervention quickly drove out the insurgents but significant pockets of resistance remain in the Ifoghas mountains as well as in the northern cities of Gao and Timbuktu.

    The Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) has abandoned its drive for independence in favour of helping France push out the Islamists but has refused to accept the possibility of any Malian troop presence in Kidal after returning to the northeastern desert city.

    Fabius said the MNLA, which was accused by rights campaigners on Friday of committing atrocities against black Malians in Kidal, would have to accept renouncing its weapons as part of any peace process.

    "When the time comes every group, the MNLA as much as any other armed group, will have to accept being confined and giving up its arms," Fabius told a press conference in the Malian capital Bamako.

    France has announced the beginning of its troop withdrawal from Mali late April, with its deployment halving by late July and a UN peacekeeping force of more than 11,000 troops expected to deploy around the same time.

    Fabius said the other objective of his visit was to encourage Mali's politicians to begin the process of reconciliation by holding elections in a country which remains riven by ethnic tension.

    Mali has been in crisis since March last year when president Amadou Toumani Toure was overthrown by the military, who two weeks later handed over power to a transitional administration.

    "We hope conditions will soon be in place to allow us to organise and complete these elections by July 31. It's a gamble but it is a strong commitment of the Malian government," Premier Diango Cissoko told reporters.

    Fabius said the "policy decisions had already been taken" for a July poll which would begin the process of reconciliation.

    "Technically and politically it is feasible" to have "a legally elected president in July", he added.

    Analysts have voiced doubts over the possibility of a vote within such a tight timeframe because of the continued instability in the north and the problem of getting 400,000 people displaced by the conflict to the ballot box.

    There are an estimated 175,076 Malian refugees in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger, including 37,530 people who have fled since January, according to United Nations figures.

    But Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, the minister for territorial administration, said on Thursday Mali had asked neighbouring countries to ensure they would provide polling booths for Malian refugees.

    "This election will not be absolutely perfect," a French diplomatic source conceded, adding that Paris and the international community were nevertheless relying on the ripple effect elections could have to advance reconciliation.

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    Source: Chatham House
    Country: Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Somalia, World

    Despite strong economic growth in many countries of the Horn and Sahel, environmental and demographic changes coupled to low levels of political inclusion and high instability mean that the risk of acute food crises is likely to increase. Conflict and geopolitics act as risk multipliers, meaning that full-blown famine remains a real threat, as was seen most recently in Somalia during 2011.

    These trends mean unmet humanitarian needs are increasing in the Horn and Sahel despite increasing donor spending. The use of famine Early Warning Systems (EWS) to anticipate and mitigate food crises provides a major opportunity to save more lives, protect more livelihoods, check rising costs and close the widening funding gap.

    Yet all too often the link between early warning and early action fails and the opportunity to mitigate a gathering crisis is lost. This report considers in detail the various political, institutional and organizational barriers to translating early warning of famine into early action to avert it, and makes recommendations for how these can be overcome.

    Read the full report.


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal
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    Source: Missionary International Service News Agency
    Country: Mali

    L’affrontement armé entre les agents de police affiliés aux deux syndicats rivaux au sein du Groupe mobile de sécurité (GMS) de Bamako a duré plus de deux heures et a suscité peur et mécontentement parmi les habitants du quartier; au cœur du contentieux, des promotions controversées attribuées à certains agents considérés proche du capitaine Amadou Haya Sanogo, encore influent, chef de la junte militaire qui le 22 mars 2012, a destitué le président Amadou Toumani Touré. Selon des sources journalistiques locales, un « climat de calme temporaire » règne désormais sur la capitale après l’incident de la nuit dernière. Les promotions en question ont été annulées il y a quelques mois par le président Dioncounda Traoré, mais le mécontentement au sein de la police se fait encore sentir.

    Les débordements se sont vérifiés à Bamako, alors que le ministre des Affaires Étrangères français, Laurent Fabius était sur place. Dans le même temps, un rassemblement a eu lieu au camp militaire de Djicoroni Para, aux portes de Bamako, en signe de réconciliation entre les bérets rouges liés à l’ancien président Touré et les bérets verts, protagonistes du coup d’état de l’année dernière. Depuis lors, les tensions se sont apaisées.

    Sur le plan politique, le ministre de l’Aménagement du territoire, le colonel Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, a déclaré qu’il « n’y avait aucun doute possible sur la date des élections » prévues d’ici le 31 juillet. Durant une réunion sur l’organisation du vote, présidée par le premier ministre Diango Cissoko, le gouvernement malien a annoncé avoir les fonds suffisants à disposition pour « être sereins sur le processus électoral à organiser », tout en précisant que les présidentielles pourraient avoir lieu avant les législatives. L’identification des électeurs, estimés à 6,9 millions, sera réalisée sur la base des dernières données du recensement administratif, alors que les documents électoraux seront imprimés à l’aide de techniques biométriques. Concernant le vote des déplacés internes et des réfugiés, au total 470 000 personnes, l’exécutif est déjà entré en contact avec les administrations du Niger, du Burkina Faso, de l’Algérie et de la Mauritanie.

    Alors que l’offensive des militaires maliens, français et africain continue au nord pour rétablir la sécurité dans les chefs-lieux de Gao, Tombouctou et dans le massif des Ifoghas, fief d’Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (Aqmi), le président français François Hollande, en visite au Maroc, a annoncé la participation de Paris à la prochaine mission de maintien de la pays de l’ONU au Mali. Après le retrait de ses troupes, actuellement au nombre de 4000 soldats, qui débutera d’ici la fin du mois, l’ancienne puissance coloniale prévoit prendre part à l’intervention internationale « à condition que les groupes armés maliens et le gouvernement de Bamako s’engagent dans un dialogue national et que le pays retrouve la voie de la démocratie », a déclaré le président français.

    [VV/FT]


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