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ReliefWeb - Updates

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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Ethiopia, Somalia

    DOLLO ADO, Ethiopia, April 8 (UNHCR) – Life in a tent in this refugee camp used to spell sleepless nights and fraught days for 33-year-old Mako and her six children. "I could not sleep at night," the Somali refugee recalls.

    Even during the day, she says, "I would come back home and find my tent cut open and the sacks of sugar and rice missing."

    But now she proudly surveys the bamboo shelter in Kobe camp that her family moved into last year. "My children are safer here," she says contentedly. "I can now lock the windows and the door."

    Mako's new home is one of 7,200 so-called transitional shelters that UNHCR and partners have constructed in the last year in five refugee camps in the Dollo Ado area, some 1,000 kilometres south of Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.

    The new homes signal the transition from emergency response to recovery. In 2011 the emphasis was on quickly opening three new camps to provide a haven for the 100,000 Somalis who fled drought and insecurity in their homeland. Kobe, where Mako lives, sprang up, along with Hilaweyn and Buramino camps.

    The look was the classic UNHCR refugee camp picture – rows of tents. But these days, as the emergency phase of the UN refugee agency's response in southern Ethiopia ends, the camps are starting to look more and more like rural villages.

    That's because providing refugees with a more durable and dignified shelter became a pressing priority for UNHCR last year. "We invited refugees to be part of the solution rather than blindly packaging a shelter model for them," says Anicet Adjahossou, shelter specialist for UNHCR in Dollo Ado.

    UNHCR began discussions with refugees, the authorities and partners to develop a compelling alternative to emergency tents. "After two months of consultations and focus groups, we decided to produce and pilot three different models," said Adjahossou.

    Three partners working with UNHCR in the camp – Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Danish Refugee Council and Africa Humanitarian Action – each built a transitional shelter prototype based on specific requirements, including the social and cultural background of the refugees, local availability of materials, climate and weather patterns and livelihood opportunities.

    "On behalf of all refugees, we chose the NRC shelter with bamboo walls, steel roof and mud plaster," says Mako, who is also a member of the refugee committee in the camp. "It reminded us of our houses in Somalia."

    Covered with corrugated iron sheeting, the shelter is suited to hot climates like Dollo Ado, where temperatures can exceed 42 degrees Celsius in the summer. "It remains cool all day long," she says, unlike tents, where refugees found it hard to breathe under the intense sunlight of the afternoon.

    Luckily for the refugees, new homes also brought new jobs. More than 300 trained refugees and local residents now manufacture shelter components – bracings and roof frames – at workshops in the five camps. Another 150 workers from the refugee and host communities have been trained to assemble shelters on site. If they want better insulation, refugees can plaster their homes themselves.

    So far, just under 20 per cent of the 190,000 refugees in the five Dollo Ado camps are living in these new shelters. Funding shortfalls mean UNHCR may not reach its goal to put 60 per cent of the refugees into such houses this year, Adjahossou says.

    Meanwhile, house-proud Mako is doing what any new homeowner would – decorating and inviting the neighbours round. "I hope many more refugees will be able to enjoy greater living space, privacy and dignity," she says, showing off the red and pink carpets covering the walls and the floor of her living room.

    "While my children are asleep, I can invite my neighbours for tea in the next room. Or I can also lock the door and spend time with just my family."

    By Rocco Nuri in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia


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    Source: Department for International Development
    Country: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Niger, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    The UK will provide food relief for 330,000 children and refugees facing the threat of hunger

    Britain’s Development Secretary Justine Greening announced the new package today which will help hundreds of thousands of people across the Sahel region - including those hit by the food crisis in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger.

    The £10 million programme will allow the World Food Programme (WFP) to deliver emergency food rations for 200,000 refugees in eastern Chad and UNICEF to provide nutrient-rich food to 130,000 severely malnourished children across the region.

    International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

    Britain will not stand on the sidelines while lives are under threat. People in the Sahel are still suffering terribly from last year’s food crisis and Britain is taking a leading role in this emergency.

    Our support will help avoid a future crisis by keeping open a vital lifeline of relief, but we cannot do this alone. The world must wake up to this chronic humanitarian crisis.

    A serious food crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa last year has meant that many people in the region are still recovering from losing their food stocks and livelihoods. Britain’s emergency help means food will reach people before their towns and villages are cut off by seasonal rains.

    The UK will provide:

    £5 million to support WFP to get emergency food supplies into place in eastern Chad for 200,000 refugees and communities who are at risk of hunger, before the rainy season begins. In eastern Chad, many roads become impassable for trucks between June to October every year due to the rains.

    £5 million to support UNICEF’s ready-to-use therapeutic food pipeline to save the lives of 130,000 severely malnourished children in Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.

    The United Nations estimate that over 10 million people will be at risk of food shortages across the Sahel in 2013 and that over 1.4 million children will require medical treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

    In addition, more than 440,000 people have been displaced by the recent conflict in Mali, of which 180,000 men, women and children have fled into neighbouring countries Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger.

    The World Food Programme’s work in Chad currently has a funding shortfall of £31 million for 2013, or 32,825 Metric Tonnes of food this year. Without further support, WFP would be forced to cut the refugee ration by half.

    UNICEF’s ready-to-use therapeutic food supplies for Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad are also facing a £16 million funding shortfall this year. The new funding from the UK will help to close these funding gaps.


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    Source: US Agency for International Development
    Country: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, United States of America

    OVERVIEW

    Many of the 21 countries[1] in the West Africa region face recurrent complex emergencies, frequent food insecurity, sustained prevalence of acute malnutrition, cyclical drought, seasonal floods, and disease outbreaks, resulting in significant challenges to at-risk populations. Many cities in the region have rapidly expanded, often in areas prone to floods, landslides, and other natural hazards, causing urban growth to outpace the capacity of local authorities to respond to disasters. Conflict also scatters populations, triggering large-scale displacement that multiplies the vulnerabilities of those forcibly uprooted, who often lack access to resources, employment, and basic services.

    USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) not only responds to disasters, but also funds disaster risk reduction (DRR) programs to build the capacity of communities to prepare for and respond to emergencies. USAID/OFDA’s DRR activities in West Africa during FY 2012 sought to reduce the risks and effects of acute malnutrition, food insecurity, displacement, and epidemics through programs that decrease household fragility and increase resilience to future shocks by addressing the root causes of recurrent emergencies in the region. During FY 2012, USAID/OFDA provided more than $52 million for DRR projects throughout West Africa, including programs that integrate DRR with disaster response.


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    Source: US Agency for International Development
    Country: Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal
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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Togo
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    CERF disbursed over US$28 million during first Quarter of 2013 for emergency humanitarian response in West and Central Africa

    During the first Quarter of 2013, the Central Fund for Emergency Response (CERF) has al- located 28.03 million dollars in five countries in West Africa and Central Africa: Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Togo. CERF funds for the region represent 19.2 per cent of all CERF allocations in the first Quarter in the world, a limited share.

    The Malian crisis is the source of more than 65 per cent of CERF disbursements for the re- gion, either directly (US$ 13.8 million for Mali) or indirectly: the whole of $4.47 million alloca- ted to UN agencies in Mauritania benefited Malian refugees in Mauritania and host com- munities.

    Nigeria has received more than $6.4 million to fund assistance projects for people affected by the devastating floods of 2012. Togo has received more than 323,000 dollars for a project of nutritional assistance to Ghanaian refugees and their host communities in the north. Finally, Liberia was awarded nearly $3million dol- lars for under-funded emergencies for projects related to Ivorian refugees in eastern coun- tries and their host communities.


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Togo
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    Le CERF a alloué plus de 28 millions de dollars au premier trimestre 2013 pour la réponse humanitaire d’urgence en Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre

    Au premier trimestre 2013, le Fonds central pour les interventions d’urgence (CERF) a alloué 28,03 millions de dollars à cinq pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre : Liberia, Mali, Mauritanie, Nigeria et Togo. Les fonds CERF destinés à la région représentent 19,2% de l’ensemble des fonds CERF alloués au pre- mier trimestre dans le monde, une part limitée.

    Au total, la crise malienne est à l’origine de plus de 65% des versements CERF destinés à la région, soit directement (13,8 millions de dollars pour le Mali), soit indirectement : l’ensemble des 4,47 millions de dollars accordées aux agences des Nations unies en Mauritanie l’a été au profit des réfugiés maliens en Mau- ritanie et des communautés d’accueil.

    Le Nigeria a reçu plus de 6,4 millions de dollars pour financer des projets d’assistance au profit des personnes affectées par les inonda- tions catastrophiques de 2012. Le Togo a bénéficié de plus de 323.000 dollars pour un projet d’assistance nutritionnelle aux réfugiés ghanéens et leurs communautés d’accueil dans le nord du pays. Enfin, le Liberia s’est vu accorder près de 3 millions de dollars au titre des urgences sous-financées pour des projets liés aux réfugiés ivoiriens dans l’est du pays et leurs communautés d’accueil.


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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Central African Republic, Chad, Sudan
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    Highlights

    Global acute malnutrition in the Chadian Sahel is chronically hovering around emergency thresholds. Severe Acute Malnutrition rates remains above emergency levels in the Sahel belt regions. The results of the last nutrition survey with SMART methods conducted by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health on January 2013 (Post Harvest season) shows that the Global Acute Malnutrition Rate (GAM) in 6 regions of the Sahel belt is at or above the emergency threshold of 15%, while in the other regions, the GAM rate is critical (10% – 15%); in fact the 2012 harvest does not translate into a better nutrition outcome for children.

    Around 12,500 Sudanese refugees fleeing inter-ethnic violence in the troubled Darfur region have crossed into East of Chad over the last four weeks. In addition, around 4,000 new Central African Refugees also crossed into South of Chad near Belom, an old CAR refugee’s camp.


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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Mali, Mauritania
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    Highlights

    • Mauritania is the single largest recipient of refugees fleeing the conflict in Mali. 75,019 refugees are living in the Mbéra camp, including 20,815 new arrivals in 2013.*
    • 57% of the refugees are children and many have been in the camp for over a year, resulting in overlapping emergency and medium term needs.
    • Refugee children face a range of threats to their health, nutrition, education and family lives.
      Many have experienced severe trauma and are suffering from malnutrition and need specialised attention and care.
    • UNICEF, in coordination with UNHCR and partners, are providing education in the camp for 6,635 children in six schools, psychosocial stimulation for 1,028 children at four child friendly spaces and since 2012, 1,434 children have been treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).
    • More resources are needed to fill gaps, including 19,510 children not getting an education.
    • In 2013, the expected caseload of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) for the entire country is 122,719 children under five years, including 23,901 cases of SAM. Nationally, GAM prevalence is currently 5.6% and expected to increase significantly in the summer.
    • Preventative blanket feeding and programmes to build longer term resilience are all being planned and implemented.
    • A multi-sectorial package of services is being scaled up from 291 to all 488 nutrition centres in the country.

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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Mali

    By Nena Nedeljkovic

    A programme combats chronic malnutrition in Mali at the grassroots level.

    SIKASSO, Mali, 8 April 2013 – Exclusive breastfeeding saves lives. Aminata Coulibaly, from the village of Kesso, Sikasso region, has seen its impact first-hand.

    Acute malnutrition

    Ms. Coulibaly lost her first two children to acute malnutrition. Lacking the knowledge of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for children up to 6 months of age, Aminata fed her first two children shea butter and warm water, a widely eaten local dish.

    The mixture would bloat their little bellies without providing them with the nutrients that they required. Because of the heaviness of the mixture and difficulty of digestion for their tiny stomachs, the children would sleep long hours, giving Ms. Coulibaly the false impression that they were adequately fed.

    Eventually, as a result of acute malnutrition, both children perished.

    Support in the community

    Today, Ms. Coulibaly’s third child, Chatta Dembelé, is a healthy, happy toddler, thanks to support that the Association of Support in the Development of Activities of Population (ASDAP), in partnership with UNICEF, has provided in her community.

    ASDAP is a UNICEF partner NGO dedicated to teaching communities in Sikasso region about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding, in addition to other essential family practices. UNICEF has been providing ASDAP with technical and financial assistance since 2008 to deliver messages to villages in the region.

    ASDAP Coordinator Dr. Aïssata Traoré Diakité has been working with the village women. According to Dr. Diakité, the biggest change has been in the women’s self-esteem. Meeting every Tuesday at the ASDAP office in Koutiala, women learn, share their stories and experiences, sing and dance. Following the sessions, they share their newly acquired knowledge at home, with their husbands and families, thus spreading the messages within their communities.

    Support for displaced Malians

    Since the beginning of the conflict in Mali, Sikasso has been welcoming internally displaced Malians from the north. ASDAP has worked with these families to provide them with key messages for behaviour change, as well.

    Nana Assarkiné fled Douentza, Mopti region, in 2012. She arrived in Koutiala, where her mother, Lala Touré, a trained ASDAP communicator and musukoroba (community and family leader), suggested that she spend time with other women by attending ASDAP sessions.

    Ms. Assarkiné says that ASDAP helped her better understand the importance of mosquito nets for malaria prevention. Her family’s health expenses have been reduced, as her five children are now falling ill less frequently, thanks to the nets.

    These sessions have also provided Ms. Assarkiné with the psychological support that she needed following her departure from Douentza.

    A need to scale up

    Sikasso region is the breadbasket of Mali, supplying the country’s other regions with fruits, vegetables, meats and grains. Yet, Sikasso is the most greatly malnourished region in the country, with a chronic malnutrition rate of 35.4 per cent.

    Part of the problem is that local producers sell nearly everything they grow, lacking an understanding of the importance of what they produce. As a result, they are left with little food for their children.

    Cultural aspects also play a role in child malnutrition. Specifically, children are not truly seen as family members until they become productive and contribute to family income. Heads of households get the greatest share of food first, with a significant impact on children’s diets.

    But, communication like ASDAP’s is bringing about necessary behaviour changes at the community level.

    More work needs to be done to bring about other essential behaviour changes in the region. Looking ahead, more partnerships that support local health and social service authorities need to be established so that programmes can be scaled up.

    For its part, UNICEF hopes to help local authorities in terms of improved organization and communication, and to support local NGOs further in bringing about behaviour change.


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    Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid department
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali
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    Key messages

    • High food prices and recurrent indebtedness of the most vulnerable households in Burkina Faso, where more than half of the population lives in extreme poverty, aggravate a structural food insecurity situation.

    • Child suffering in Burkina Faso is at the level of emergency: it's estimated that 120,000 children under five years old suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).

    • The European Commission is funding humanitarian projects that provide treatment for malnutrition, free health care for children under five, pregnant women and lactating mothers, as well as cash and vouchers distribution to the poorest households to allow them to buy their own food.

    • To strengthen resilience to future shocks and break the negative spiral of poverty and hunger, the international donor community should support Burkina Faso to mainstream these interventions as part of a social protection package for the poorest of the poor.


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    Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid department
    Country: Djibouti, Somalia
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    Humanitarian situation and needs

    Key messages

    • One of the aims of European Commission's humanitarian aid actions in Djibouti is to reduce people's vulnerability to droughts and climate-caused disasters. This can be achieved by increasing communities' resilience to respond better to upcoming crises;

    • The European Commission also works on improving the food situation in the country as well as on fighting malnutrition and malnutrition-related diseases. Access to clean water and sanitary facilities still needs further development in Djibouti;

    • The European Commission as well aims to bring durable solutions for refugees present in Djibouti.


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    Source: IRIN
    Country: Mali

    MOPTI/BAMAKO, 9 avril 2013 (IRIN) - La persistance des combats et la crainte de représailles ont gravement perturbé les habitudes migratoires des pasteurs du nord du Mali. À l'approche de la saison de soudure, les éleveurs et leur famille sont particulièrement vulnérables à l'insécurité alimentaire et à la pauvreté.

    L'instabilité continue de régner dans les régions de Gao et de Tombouctou. On rapporte ainsi des attaques sporadiques et des actes de banditisme. Le plus récent incident, un attentat suicide, a eu lieu à Tombouctou le 30 mars. Si les opérations militaires ont pris fin dans le massif des Ifoghas, dans le nord de la région de Kidal, la sécurité est loin d'être rétablie dans la région et les tensions persistent à la suite de la reprise de la ville de Kidal par les séparatistes touaregs du Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad (MNLA).

    Mouvements migratoires restreints, escalade des tensions

    Si l'insécurité a poussé les pasteurs à se disperser un peu partout dans le nord du pays, elle a également empêché certains d'entre eux d'emprunter leurs voies migratoires habituelles par crainte de violences. Ainsi, des milliers d'éleveurs touaregs et arabes craignaient trop les attaques représailles pour retourner dans la zone pastorale située au nord du fleuve Niger et ont trouvé refuge dans les pays voisins.

    Selon Franck Vanatelle, directeur pays de l'organisation non gouvernementale (ONG) Action Contre la Faim (ACF) au Mali, la plupart des éleveurs se sont dirigés vers le nord de la région de Gao ou vers celle de Kidal ou sont restés sur les rives du fleuve près de Gao et de Tombouctou. Selon Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF), la criminalité et le banditisme sont très élevés dans les marchés de cette zone.

    Les éleveurs sont de plus en plus nombreux à affluer vers l'est, près des frontières mauritaniennes et burkinabée, ce qui entraîne une escalade des tensions entre éleveurs et agriculteurs, a dit Marc Chapon, responsable d'AVSF au Mali.

    Les experts craignent que le déplacement des troupes françaises vers le sud et les zones d'élevage riveraines de Gao et de Tombouctou ne perturbe encore plus les mouvements migratoires des éleveurs qui risquent de chercher à fuir les violences potentielles.

    Pillage de bétail, rareté du fourrage

    Les éleveurs du nord du Mali ont perdu de nombreuses têtes de bétail en 2012. Les groupes islamistes qui occupaient le Nord ont en effet saisi nombre de leurs animaux ou les ont achetés pour une bouchée de pain. Mohamed Ould Rhissa, un pasteur de Tombouctou, a dit à IRIN : « J'ai perdu la moitié de mon troupeau pendant l'occupation [du Nord]. J'avais plus de 200 têtes de bétail et je n'en ai plus qu'une cinquantaine. Les djihadistes venaient chaque semaine prendre les animaux qu'ils voulaient. »

    M. Rhissa a ajouté qu'il était désormais incapable de nourrir les bêtes qu'il lui reste. Le sac de fourrage, qui coûtait 15 dollars avant l'occupation, se vend désormais 40 dollars, et il n'y a pas suffisamment de pâturages en périphérie de Tombouctou, là où se trouve son troupeau. Je ne sais pas ce que je vais en faire. Il est difficile de trouver de l'eau, des pâturages et des gens qui ont suffisamment d'argent pour racheter [les animaux]. Et je ne peux pas me déplacer à cause de l'insécurité ambiante. C'est très triste. »

    En plus d'être hors de prix, le fourrage est difficile à trouver, car les grands marchands sont nombreux à avoir fui le pays. Par ailleurs, selon le Réseau des systèmes d'alerte précoce contre la famine (FEWSNET), les fournisseurs qui venaient auparavant du sud du Nigeria pour échanger du fourrage contre de la nourriture ont décidé de rester chez eux cette année.

    Oumarou Ag, un habitant de Gao, a dit à IRIN que certains éleveurs donnaient leurs bêtes aux militaires parce qu'ils étaient incapables de les nourrir. Parmi ceux qui ont réussi à migrer vers le sud du pays, dans la vallée [du Niger,] près de Mopti, certains ont dû vendre leurs animaux à très faible prix.

    « L'industrie de l'élevage de Gao devra être complètement restructurée si l'on veut éviter la catastrophe », a-t-il dit à IRIN.

    Des marchés paralysés

    Vu la fermeture de la frontière algérienne, aucun marché aux bestiaux ne fonctionne à 50 kilomètres au nord du fleuve, dans les régions de Tombouctou et de Gao. Presque tous les échanges commerciaux ont lieu entre des petits commerçants qui troquent de la nourriture contre des animaux.

    Le prix des bêtes est généralement en hausse à cette époque de l'année. Cette année toutefois, les conditions commerciales sont mauvaises en raison de la flambée des cours des céréales. Selon des évaluations récentes, les prix des céréales sont 70 pour cent supérieurs à la moyenne sur cinq ans dans certaines régions du nord du pays, ce qui laisse craindre une aggravation de l'insécurité alimentaire.

    Les pasteurs qui se sont rendus sur les marchés de la ville de Gao ont dit qu'ils n'avaient pu y vendre leurs bêtes parce que les rares personnes qui s'y trouvaient étaient incapables de les acheter.

    Le Programme alimentaire mondial (PAM) a par ailleurs indiqué que les éleveurs avaient considérablement réduit leur consommation de viande et de lait, sans pour autant fournir de chiffres.

    Pour les éleveurs, la saison difficile débute, même en temps normal, aux alentours d'avril ou de mai, lorsque les pâturages commencent à manquer. La saison de soudure des agriculteurs se déroule quant à elle d'avril à juin.

    « Nous nous sentons abandonnés », a dit M. Rhissa. « Personne ne nous aide. Les ONG distribuent des vivres aux gens, mais aucune d'elles - ni le gouvernement d'ailleurs - ne pense à nous. Il ne restera bientôt plus grand-chose de l'industrie de l'élevage. »

    Un gouvernement absent

    Au cours de la dernière année, le gouvernement a été plus ou moins absent du nord du pays, ce qui signifie que toutes les activités officielles de soutien aux éleveurs ont cessé. Selon M. Chapon, d'AVSF, les seules interventions de médecine vétérinaire et campagnes de vaccination qui ont eu lieu dans le nord des régions de Gao et de Tombouctou sont celles que son organisation a menées. Le taux de couverture vaccinale des animaux est donc très faible.

    « Le risque d'apparition de maladies est élevé en raison de la présence de concentrations importantes d'animaux dans certaines vallées et dans des zones situées près de lacs ou d'autres étendues d'eau », a dit M. Chapon, qui exhorte les organisations d'aide et le gouvernement à étudier la faisabilité d'une campagne de vaccination de masse en 2013. Les coupures de courant qui surviennent fréquemment dans le Nord risquent cependant de nuire à l'amélioration de la couverture vaccinale en rendant difficile et dispendieux le maintien de la chaîne de froid.

    AVSF travaille actuellement à la création de six postes de santé et de trois équipes mobiles chargées de s'assurer de la santé des personnes et des animaux dans les régions de Tombouctou et de Gao. L'ONG envisage également d'acheter des têtes de bétail pour les familles qui ont perdu une grande partie de leur troupeau à cause des pillages liés à la crise de 2011-2012 ou parce qu'ils ont fui en laissant leurs bêtes derrière elles.

    aj/kh/sd/rz-gd/amz


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    Source: IFRC
    Country: Mali

    By Moustapha Diallo, IFRC

    Since conflict erupted in northern Mali a year ago, the Mopti region has hosted more than 40,000 people who have fled their homes in search of safety. A camp was established in Sévaré, however, only 600 people have chosen to settle there. According to UNHCR, 90 per cent of people fleeing the violence, more than 270,000, prefer to live with host families scattered across many regions and districts.

    As a result, the pressure on host families is enormous, both financially and physically. Many families use their own dwindling funds to grants from aid agencies to support those who have landed on their doorsteps. And they are exhausted looking after not only their own families, but now, dozens of others, many of whom are sick.

    In his house in Medina Coura, in the region of Mopti, Malick Maiga has taken in more than 70 people. For this simple truck driver, who is already struggling to provide for his wife and 13 children, feeding so many unexpected guests is a challenge. But he can’t turn his back on them. “These are parents who came here without a penny. I can’t throw them out onto the street,” he says. “Today our main problem is food. There just isn’t enough of it.”

    In Mopti and in many other parts of Mali, people continue to suffer from hunger due to poor harvests and high food prices experienced across the country last year.

    “The influx of displaced persons in some parts of the country has greatly aggravated the situation,” explains Mamadou Traore, Secretary General of the Mali Red Cross Society. “Poor families are especially affected as they have not yet recovered from the food crisis last year, and have already exhausted their coping mechanisms.”

    Dr Aminata Coulibaly, head of the nutrition department at the medical region of Mopti, says there has been an increase in the number of children under five suffering from severe malnutrition in the region. “However, with the support and interventions of partners, including the Mali Red Cross Society, those numbers – when combined with the number of children suffering from moderate malnutrition – are starting to level off.”

    Access to basic services such as safe water, shelter, health care and education also remains a major concern. In the courtyard of Malick Maiga’s home stand two tents provided by the Red Cross. It was a gift that was well received even though there is not enough room for all. Women and children usually sleep inside while the men sleep outside or in turns. “The society wanted to give me three tents but there was no more space in the house,” says Malick.

    Sidiké Samaké took in 40 people from Timbuktu in a house he has rented. “Every day I have to manage to find food for these people. If they get sick, I pay the consultation fees and buy medicine," he says. Samaké was a merchant who also fled the violence and instability in Timbuktu last May, settling in Mopti with his wife and six children. “It's very difficult. I buy animals that I sold on the market to feed my family which is a lot larger now,” he says. “You can imagine, I myself am a displaced person obliged to take care of other displaced people."

    Samaké’s enlarged family has also benefited from the many distributions of food and essential items from the Mali Red Cross Society; activities that will need to continue in the weeks and months ahead, as the enormous needs remain.


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    Source: Tearfund
    Country: Mali

    After months of struggling to get by and not knowing where the next meal would come from, Maimouna Cisse has finally received some respite from the hunger that’s blighting Mali.

    ‘Today is a great day and our thanks go to those who’ve remembered the poor and needy,’ she says, after being supplied with 50kg of rice from Tearfund partner TNT.

    Maimouna is a mother-of-seven who lives in the town of Gao, which has been in the frontline of Mali’s ongoing conflict between Islamic groups and Malian forces.

    ‘I never thought the crisis would last so long,’ said Maimouna, for whom regular meals have been a distant memory over recent months.

    TNT has supplied 2,000 people in Gao and Timbuktu with rice, targeting the most vulnerable households – widows, orphans, the elderly and people with disabilities.

    Gold

    Maimouna, who is supporting her family alone, said, ‘We were always hearing that aid was given by this or that organisation but my family and I never even got a piece of rice. I want to thank the people who are bringing us this aid.’

    TNT is working with local communities and authorities to supply 20 tons of rice to those most in need.

    Abdoulaye Aboubacar has seen his business as a tailor dry up as people forgo weddings and social occasions due to the conflict.

    ‘Our business no longer has any value,’ said Abdoulaye, who has 11 children to support. ‘I am currently ill and I suffer from high blood pressure.’

    For him, the rice from Tearfund is vital: ‘This is the first time in eight months that I have brought home a 50kg sack of rice. My infinite thanks. This sack of rice is like gold for me and my family.’

    Solidarity

    Another rice recipient, Lamine Younoussa, who is visually impaired, said, ‘I can’t tell you how happy we were to get it.

    ‘We really thank you for this gesture of solidarity and love. We have prayed for you and we are sure that God will hear our prayers on your behalf.’

    Fellow resident Hawa Moussa provides telling insights into how important the food has been for people who have felt isolated and overlooked.

    Recalling life before the Tearfund distribution, the widow, who has four children, said, ‘There were days where we didn’t eat anything.

    ‘The [food] shortage is so great and the solidarity that existed yesteryear has disappeared. Today it is every man for himself. Thank you for thinking of others and for this bag of rice.’

    Future shocks

    Cath Candish, Tearfund’s Country Programme Coordinator for Mali , said, ‘The conflict began over a year ago, when Mali was already facing a severe food crisis due to failed harvests and escalating food prices.

    ‘The Tuareg rebellion, army coup d’etat, jihadist insurgency and imposition of extreme forms of Sharia law, the subsequent mass displacement of communities, disruption of agriculture, transport links, and markets, has made the situation a whole lot worse.

    ‘Put the conflict in a context of droughts, floods and high food prices in a country already chronically vulnerable, with a long history of hunger and poverty, and you have a challenge, not quickly, easily or totally solved by military action alone.

    ‘Tearfund and our partners are working not only to respond to immediate needs where we can, but also, perhaps more importantly, to build resilience to future shocks and crises.

    ‘We also want to see more international funding directed towards education, peace building and child protection, as this conflict is likely to affect the future of a whole generation of young Malians.’


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    04/09/2013 16:50 GMT

    ABUJA, April 09, 2013 (AFP) - The European Union on Tuesday pledged 50 million euros ($65 million) in support for the African force tasked with helping fight Islamist rebels in Mali.

    The international community in January promised to provide $455 million dollars to support the force, known as the International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA).

    West African leaders have previously estimated the long-term AFISMA funding requirements at $950 million.

    "As far as support to AFISMA is concerned, the EU is committed to playing an important role towards the eradication of the activities of terrorists and criminal groups which have been operating...in (the) Sahel and especially in Mali," said David MacRae, the head of the EU delegation to Nigeria.

    He pledged the funds at the headquarters of the Economic Community of West African states in Nigeria's capital, alongside the ECOWAS Commission President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo.

    "Most of the EU funding will cover allowances for the troops and officers and will directly support the deployment of AFISMA," said MacRae, who also leads the EU's delegation to ECOWAS.

    The UN-mandated African force of 6,300 troops is in the coming weeks expected to take over from the 4,000 French soldiers who were deployed to Mali in January to block the Islamists from advancing on the capital.

    The French military withdrew its first batch of soldiers from Mali on Tuesday.

    AFISMA could swell to 11,000 troops as the French gradually withdraw but it is not clear when the additional foreign funds will be made available.

    International donors have separately committed to help fund rehabilitation efforts in Mali after the West African state collapsed last year.

    Tuareg rebels seized the country's vast arid north in the chaos following a coup in March last year before losing control to well-armed Islamists.

    ola/bs/jmm

    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Save the Children
    Country: Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Mali, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, World, South Sudan (Republic of)
    preview


    Children make up majority of victims of sexual violence in many of world’s conflict and post-conflict zones, Save the Children warns, ahead of G8 meeting Children make up the majority of victims of sexual violence in many conflict and post-conflict zones, Save the Children has said, in a new report released ahead of a crucial G8 meeting in London aimed at tackling the issue.

    Tuesday, 9 April 2013 - 4:08pm In its new report Unspeakable Crimes Against Children, the charity has collated figures and testimonies from a range of countries affected by conflict over the past decade, including Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Colombia.

    Reliable data on the issue is limited, as much sexual abuse goes unreported, but taken together, the figures collated in the report indicate that children frequently make up the majority of sexual abuse victims in war and its aftermath.

    For example, a study in Liberia – still recovering from a vicious civil war that ended a decade ago – found that more than 80% of victims of gender-based violence in 2011-12 were younger than 17. Almost all of them were raped.

    Among testimonies gathered from victims and witnesses for the report, Save the Children heard of children being killed after being raped, both girls and boys kidnapped and abused by armed forces and groups, and children as young as two being attacked by opportunistic sexual predators, including teachers, religious leaders, peacekeepers, and family members.

    Despite this, programmes to prevent children falling victim to sexual violence and help them recover from attacks remain chronically underfunded. The most recent complete global figures show that less than a quarter of the budget needed to protect children and women in emergencies was available, the charity said.

    Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s Chief Executive said: “It is shocking that in conflict zones around the world, children are being raped and abused at such an appalling rate. Sexual violence is one of the hidden horrors of war and the damage it wreaks ruins lives.

    “Even if they recover from the physical effects of their experiences, many victims carry the psychological scars of their ordeal for the rest of their lives, and are often cast out from society. Despite all this, there are huge gaps in funding for the work needed to protect children from these atrocious crimes and to respond to their needs.”

    Testimonies of witnesses and victims of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings around the world reveal the devastating impact such incidents have on children’s lives:

    “Rebels were raping women, they took two girls: one was 13 and the other was 14. Then they took a 15-year-old. There were 15 or 16 [men]. The one who was 13 died because they beat her so badly.” Barakissa, aged 29, describing the abduction and rape of young girls in Mali, 2012 “I still remember the day when I was raped the first time. I was raped three times that night. I wanted to escape from them but didn’t get a chance.” Aditya, remembering the 3 years she spent (from the age of 13) captive of the Maoist militias in Nepal “It was horrible. My daughter got sick because she had been injured by what the man had done when he molested her.” Maria, recounting the medical effects after the rape of her five–year-old daughter Diana in Colombia.

    During its leadership of the G8, the UK government has vowed to prioritise the issue of sexual violence in conflict. Save the Children is calling on G8 leaders to take the following concrete actions to help children who are affected:

    • Fund child protection in emergencies to make sure that vulnerable children are kept safe and given help to recover from their experiences.
    • Ensure that programmes aimed at dealing with sexual violence in conflict zones are focussed on children, who often make up the majority of survivors.
    • End impunity for sexual violence against children, making sure that those responsible are brought to account.
    • Ensure that the UN has the resources and mandate to put measures in place to effectively protect children in conflicts.

    ENDS

    For more information contact the Save the Children press office on 0207 012 6400 or out of hours 07831 650 409


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    Source: UN Women
    Country: Mali

    Brussels, 9 April 2013—Some 40 women from the Sahel met today to underline the crucial contributions women from the region are making to economic recovery, political stability and conflict prevention, and to explore ways to enhance their role in these areas.

    Organized by the European Union, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel and UN Women, the Conference on Women’s Leadership in the Sahel gathered women from Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, as well as representatives from the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) today in Brussels.

    The Conference is a first step in efforts to ensure that the voices of women from the Sahel are heard and that their perspective is taken into account when addressing the challenges in the sub-region.

    “Ultimately, the women of the Sahel will be instrumental in putting the region on a path to stability,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi. “I want to tap into the potential of women to accelerate progress in the Sahel. The discussions that took place today and the recommendations by the participants will help us in seeking sustainable solutions for the Sahel.”

    Catherine Ashton, High Representative from the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, said: “All over the world, where women prosper, societies prosper; where women suffer, so do the societies they live in. This is also true for the Sahel and this is why we met today to listen to women leaders from this region, where both African and international efforts are crucial to bring a solution to the crisis. Today's discussions helped shape a common vision on how we can empower women to help political stability and economic prosperity in the Sahel. It is an important step towards the High-Level Donor's Conference on Development in Mali, which the EU, France and Mali will convene on 15 May in Brussels.”

    In looking at ways to create more opportunities for women’s full participation, the participants, both from governmental institutions and civil society organizations, decided to establish an advisory group which will provide information and facilitate consultations with the international community and regional institutions. The conclusions of the Conference will also be presented at the High-Level donor's conference in support of development in Mali on 15 May, in Brussels, in line with the recognition by the participants of the need to have a comprehensive and regional approach.

    “It is well established that for peace to be sustainable – a peace that extends beyond the simple act of signing a peace agreement – it needs to be rooted in justice and inclusion,” said Lakshmi Puri, Acting Head of UN Women and Assistant Secretary-General. “There can be no comprehensive strategy to address the sustained and systemic crisis without women’s full participation. This has been stressed by many UN resolutions, by the international community, as well as by women’s organizations themselves. We hope this Conference will usher in concrete efforts to increase the participation of women and gender experts in conflict resolution and in the transition to peace, economic recovery, democracy and stability,” she added.

    Among the recommendations designed to help sustain efforts towards peace, security and development in the Sahel, the participants emphasized the need to ensure that at least 30 per cent of participants in decision-making and politics are women, including through the adoption of positive measures. They also agreed on the need for national governments, regional organizations and the international community to support an increased participation of women in conflict-resolution initiatives and to strengthen their entrepreneurial skills and access to services. Regarding resources, the participants also called for sustained and predictable financing for initiatives dedicated to gender equality.

    For more information, please contact:

    European Union
    Michael Mann
    michael.mann@eeas.europa.eu
    +32.498.999780

    Office of the Special Envoy for the Sahel
    Vannina Maestracci
    Maestracci-unses@un.org

    UN Women
    Oisika Chakrabarti
    oisika.chakrabarti@unwomen.org
    +1 646-781-4522


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    Source: UN Women
    Country: Mali

    Bruxelles, 9 avril 2013—Plus de 40 femmes du Sahel se sont réunies aujourd'hui pour souligner l'importance de la contribution des femmes en faveur du redressement économique, de la stabilité politique et de la prévention des conflits. Elles ont aussi examiné les moyens de renforcer le rôle des femmes dans ces domaines.

    Organisée par l'Union européenne, le Bureau de l'Envoyé spécial pour le Sahel et ONU Femmes, la Conférence sur le leadership des femmes au Sahel a rassemblé, aujourd'hui à Bruxelles, des participantes de l'Algérie, du Burkina Faso, du Tchad, du Mali, de la Mauritanie, du Niger, du Sénégal ainsi que des représentants de l'Union africaine et de la Communauté Economique des Etats d'Afrique de l'Ouest (CEDEAO)

    La Conférence est une première étape afin de faire entendre les voix des femmes et d'intégrer leurs perspectives dans la recherche de solutions aux problèmes que connait le Sahel.

    "Les femmes du Sahel ont un rôle déterminant à jouer pour mettre le Sahel sur la voie de la stabilité," a affirmé l'Envoyé spécial du Secrétaire général pour le Sahel, Romano Prodi. "Je veux puiser dans le potentiel qu'elles ont à offrir pour accélérer les progrès au Sahel. Les discussions qui se sont tenues aujourd'hui et les recommandations des participantes nous aideront dans notre recherche de solutions durables pour le Sahel."

    Catherine Ashton, Haute Représentante de l'Union européenne pour les affaires étrangères et la politique de sécurité et vice-présidente de la Commission européenne a déclaré: "Partout à travers le monde lorsque les femmes prospèrent, les sociétés prospèrent aussi; lorsque les femmes souffrent, les sociétés souffrent également. Cela est également vrai pour le Sahel et c'est pour cette raison que nous avons aujourd'hui rencontré des femmes dirigeantes de la région – une région où les efforts africains et internationaux sont essentiels pour trouver une solution aux crises. Les discussions d'aujourd'hui ont aidé à mettre en forme une vision commune afin de renforcer le rôle des femmes dans la stabilité politique et la prospérité économique du Sahel. C'est un pas important pour la Conférence de haut niveau des donateurs sur le développement du Mali qui sera organisée par l'Union européenne, la France et le Mali le 15 mai prochain à Bruxelles."

    Afin de multiplier les opportunités permettant aux femmes de participer pleinement à la recherche de solutions au Sahel, les participantes à la Conférence, issues à la fois d'institutions gouvernementales et de la société civile, ont décidé d'établir un groupe consultatif qui fournira des informations et facilitera les consultations avec la communauté internationale et les institutions régionales. En accord avec la nécessité, mises en avant par les participantes, d'adopter une approche régionale pour tous les pays du Sahel, les conclusions de la réunion seront également présentées à la Conférence de haut niveau des donateurs sur le développement du Mali, le 15 mai à Bruxelles.

    "Il est clairement établi que pour que la paix soit durable et qu'elle dépasse la simple signature d'un accord, cette paix doit s'inscrire dans des principes de justice et d'inclusion," a souligné Lakshmi Puri, Directrice par intérim d'ONU Femmes et Sous-Secrétaire général. "Il ne peut y avoir de stratégie pour répondre aux multiples crises du Sahel sans la pleine participation des femmes. Cela a été souligné par plusieurs résolutions des Nations Unies, par la communauté internationale ainsi que par les organisations de femmes elles-mêmes. J'espère que cette Conférence mènera à des efforts concrets pour augmenter la participation des femmes et des experts sur les questions de genre dans la résolution des conflits et les transitions vers la paix, le redressement économique, la démocratie et la stabilité," a-t-elle ajouté.

    Parmi les recommandations formulées pour renforcer les efforts en faveur de la paix, la sécurité et le développement du Sahel, les participantes ont mis en avant la nécessité qu'au moins 30% de femmes prennent part aux prises de décisions et à la politique, y compris à travers l'adoption de mesures positives. Elles ont aussi appelé les gouvernements nationaux, les organisations régionales et la communauté internationale à soutenir une participation accrue des femmes dans la résolution des conflits. Elles ont également demandé un meilleur accès aux compétences entrepreneuriales. S'agissant des ressources, les participantes ont plaidé pour un financement durable et prévisible des initiatives dédiées à l'autonomisation des femmes et l'égalité entre les sexes.

    Pour plus d'informations, veuillez contacter:

    Union europénne
    Michael Mann
    michael.mann@eeas.europa.eu
    +32.498.999780

    Bureau de l'Envoyé spécial pour le Sahel
    Vannina Maestracci
    Maestracci-unses@un.org

    ONU Femmes
    Oisika Chakrabarti
    oisika.chakrabarti@unwomen.org


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    Source: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
    Country: Algeria, Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria
    preview


    Despite the perceived threat to international peace and security presented by the crisis in Mali, the international community did not act to resolve it for nearly ten months, which allowed Islamists to militarily take control of the whole of northern Mali and impose sharia law.

    The French military intervention in Mali placed the country at the top of the international political agenda. But the conflict in Mali and the French intervention have wider implications not only for Mali and its neighbours, but also for Africa, the international community, and France’s national security and strategic interests at home and abroad.

    This report assesses the current crisis, the key actors and the nature of the complex conflict in Mali; the nature and scope of the military, political and diplomatic interventions in Mali by a range of actors; the regional implications of the conflict for the Sahel and West Africa; and the consequences of the French military intervention and its wider implications, including the debate about the risk of the “Afghanistanisation of Mali”. It concludes with policy-relevant recommendations for external countries and intergovernmental actors interested in supporting Mali beyond the immediate military-security stabilisation to long-term peacebuilding, state reconstruction and development.


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    Source: AlertNet
    Country: Malawi

    Tue, 9 Apr 2013 09:44 GMT Source: alertnet // Karen Sanje

    MZUZU, Malawi (AlertNet) - Less than three years after Ezelina Nyirongo reluctantly abandoned cultivation of her favourite local maize varieties, the 48-year-old from Rumphi in northern Malawi is thinking of going back to them.

    Read the full report on AlertNet.


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