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ReliefWeb - Updates

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    Source: Oxfam
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger (the)

    Oxfam est vivement préoccupé par les conséquences que pourraient avoir l’intensification des combats au Mali. Les affrontements pourraient en effet aggraver les restrictions qui affectent déjà l’accès humanitaire, mais aussi accroître considérablement les besoins humanitaires des populations dans le pays et dans les Etats voisins.

    Oxfam appelle toutes les forces militaires présentes dans le pays, dont les armées malienne et française engagées dans des combats contre des groupes armés dans le nord du Mali, ainsi que les troupes régionales qui y seront déployées dans le futur, à respecter les droits de l’Homme et le droit international humanitaire. Cela nécessite de prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires pour réduire les dommages infligés aux populations civiles, comme souligné dans la résolution 2085 du Conseil de Sécurité adoptée en décembre 2012.

    Selon Michael Quinn, directeur pays d'Oxfam au Mali, « toutes les forces militaires en présence doivent garantir la sécurité des populations civiles et s’abstenir de toute action qui menacerait la capacité des acteurs humanitaires à fournir de l’aide ou la capacité des civils à recevoir cette assistance. »

    « Nous demandons à toutes les forces, y compris l’armée française, de prendre toutes les précautions possibles pour assurer que les opérations n’infligent pas de maux supplémentaires à une population civile qui se trouve déjà en situation de détresse, en particulier les femmes et les enfants. »

    « Les combats récents ont déjà causé le déplacement de 30 000 personnes, qui viennent s’ajouter aux 345 000 Maliens et Maliennes déjà déplacé-e-s au cours de l’année passée. De nouveaux combats provoqueront inévitablement une augmentation de ces chiffres, et la communauté internationale ne peut pas faire comme si de rien n’était. »

    Bien que l’information sur les conséquences humanitaire reste limitée, les estimations portent à 30 000 le nombre de personnes déplacées du fait des combats.

    Durant les dernières 24 heures, près de 500 nouvelles arrivées ont été signalées dans le camp de transit de Fassala en Mauritanie, tandis que l’on signale des milliers de personnes en route pour ce camp. Le camp principal de Mauritanie, Mbera, héberge déjà 54 000 personnes. Les réfugiés vivent au sein d’une population qui lutte elle-même pour faire face à un contexte de pauvreté, d’insécurité alimentaire et d’accès limité aux services sociaux. Des communautés appauvries, qui se remettent encore de la crise alimentaire régionale de l’année dernière, doivent désormais partager le peu d’eau et de nourriture dont elles disposent.

    En adoptant la résolution 2085 en décembre, le Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU a autorisé le déploiement d’une mission internationale de soutien au Mali dirigée par des pays africains, avec l’obligation pour toutes les parties de s’engager à respecter le droit international humanitaire et les droits de l’Homme, et à prendre les mesures appropriés pour réduire l’impact des actions militaires sur la population civile.

    Oxfam demande que des observateurs de l’ONU soient déployés de toute urgence, et que les autorités maliennes ainsi que la France fassent régulièrement rapport au Conseil de Sécurité sur les victimes civiles et les violations des droits de l’Homme commises par toutes les parties au conflit, ainsi que sur les mesures prises pour lutter contre ces violations. Par ailleurs, il faut donner la priorité à la recherche d’une solution pacifique et durable, qui sera la clé d’une stabilité à long terme au Mali, comme l’a demandé le Conseil de Sécurité.

    Oxfam apporte une aide humanitaire dans la région de Gao au Nord du Mali. L’organisation intervient également auprès des réfugiés maliens au Niger, au Burkina Faso et en Mauritanie. Nous aidons les populations dans le besoin à accéder à la nourriture, à de l’eau propre et à des services de santé publique. Les programmes d’Oxfam ont pour objectif d’atteindre 59 250 bénéficiaires à Gao et plus 150 000 au Niger, en Mauritanie et au Burkina Faso.

    Contacts

    Pour de plus amples informations, merci de bien vouloir contacter :
    Charles Bambara – Dakar – cbambara@oxfam.org.uk, tel +221 77 639 41 78
    Habibatou Gologo – Bamako – hgologo@oxfam.org.uk, +223 – 66 75 2553
    Irina Fuhrman – Ouagadougou – ifuhrmann@intermonoxfam.org, +226 7542 0508
    Valerie Batselaere – Niamey – valerie.batselaere@oxfamnovib.ne, +227 9766 148
    Lalla Aicha – Mauritanie – laicha@intermonoxfam.org, +222 – 4641 3216


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    Source: European Union
    Country: Mali

    EUROPEAN UNION
    Strasbourg, 15 January 2013
    A 14/13

    Madame President,

    I would like to thank President Schulz and all political groups for the cooperation and flexibility you have shown in making space in today's agenda to debate the situation in Mali.

    This is something that I have felt very strongly in this very turbulent week that I want to be able to do, as we bring together our services in the crisis platform and as we talk with the Malian government and as I convene the FAC in emergency session this week.

    As you have seen, the situation in Mali has changed dramatically over the past week. The intentions of jihadist rebels and terrorists in northern Mali have become clearer when they launched an offensive further south and took the city of Konna in the region of Mopti, only a few hundred kilometres away from the capital Bamako: It was clear as we analysed the situation as it happened that they wish to seize as much territory within Mali as possible and to reinforce their position before the international community was fully ready to act. They also wished to destabilize the government in Bamako to make it even more difficult for the international community to bring its support to the Malian people. The consequences of this are already clear from the actions perpetrated in northern Mali by these radical groups. There have been the horrific abuses of human rights, the desecration of holy and cultural sites, the trampling of political and religious freedom, and the threat posed to all neighbouring countries.

    That threat extends to the EU itself. We are directly impacted by the situation there. Terrorist groups based in northern Mali use this territory they control for all kind of trafficking, drugs, arms smuggling.

    They have taken many hostages, a lot of them originating from European Member States. We cannot be indifferent

    I pay tribute to those member states, particularly France, as well as the countries of West Africa, who have come to Mali’s aid. It is important that the rebels understand that the international community is united in supporting the Malian people against those that wish to impose an undemocratic and violent regime over them.

    As the UN Security Council concluded on 10th and on the 14th January the aggressive actions of the rebels “constituted a direct threat to international peace and security”. I've strongly condemned this aggression.

    What we are facing today in Mali is a matter of emergency. We have to act. Failing to do so would be a great political, strategic and humanitarian mistake.

    Like other international organisations – not just the UN but the AU and ECOWAS – as well as a number of member states led by France and other African countries, the EU has responded to the appeal of President Traoré of Mali for help. Coordination and involvement is absolutely necessary.
    The states of the region are playing a key role and the decision of Algeria and Morocco to allow for the use of their air space is a good example of this international mobilisation.

    This will be very much a collective effort. But the EU, which has taken the lead in defining a strategy to resolve the problems of the Sahel region, has a critical role to play. I set out the EU’s commitment to support the people of Mali already in a statement on 11 January. But more important now is to act rapidly.

    Since the end of last week, the EEAS and Commission colleagues have put together a package of measures that will provide immediate and longer term help to the Malian Government and people.
    Yesterday I chaired a meeting of the EU’s Crisis Platform to pull the threads together and spoke again to Laurent Fabius on the state of play on the ground. Taking all these elements into account and the emergency of the situation, I announced an extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council which will discuss this package of actions and adopt immediate measures. As I reiterated yesterday in a statement, we need to accelerate our course of action.

    The Foreign Minister of Mali is on his way to Brussels to meet with me bilaterally and then to join us at the Foreign Affairs Council.

    The EU has already agreed to provide a Training Mission to help the Malian Army restructure and enhance their capacity to defend the people against such threats (EUTM). We intend to deploy this Mission as swiftly as possible and quicker than planned. Though circumstances have changed, the need for Mali to have an efficient and professional military, under civilian control, is all the more urgent and, in the long run, essential for Mali’s viability and territorial integrity. So we will adapt accordingly the details of our mission, get the agreement of our Member States and send without further delay to Mali the first preparatory and technical elements of that mission The EU has also undertaken to support those African countries providing troops for the UN-AU mandated African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA). One key part of this international effort is to underline the need for a genuine African ownership of this whole initiative.

    I am working with Commissioner Piebalgs and the Member States to ensure that our financial support, through the African Peace Facility, can be provided in a timely manner, given that this is now being deployed more quickly than originally planned. We also have to think about logistical support, as the deployment of this African-led force is key for fighting against terrorist groups and restoring Malian territorial integrity.

    We are looking at ways we can support President Traore and his government to put the country back on the proper democratic and constitutional path. Honourable members will know as we have talked about our position on the Sahel and our overarching strategy, that Mali has been through a traumatic period over the last year. Two things are now quite clear: that the Malian Army’s job is to defend the people, not run the government; and secondly that the Malian Government must respond to the needs of the people, helping their development and respecting their diversity. The EU can help with both of those.

    We are looking also to the increase our Humanitarian support. This assistance never stopped (58 million euros already in 2012 – 20 million euros immediately available) and is going to continue, even in difficult conditions, in order to meet the growing needs of the Malian population, internally displaced persons and refugees, women and children that are the first ones to suffer from such a crisis.
    It is part of our Comprehensive Approach that we try to tackle the full range of issues that will help build a more stable and prosperous future for the country. That is one reason I intend to appoint an EU Special Representative for the Sahel, to increase our ability to deliver help to all the countries of the region and take part even more actively in the necessary international coordination mechanisms.
    But the survival of Mali must come first with the need to protect, promote and respect the sovereignty, the unity and the integrity of the Malian nation. That is the immediate priority. And that is where our immediate help is focussed.


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    Source: Guardian
    Country: Mali

    Refugees speak of escaping fierce fighting and sharia rules in towns such as Timbuktu as Islamist rebels advance south

    The city of Ségou used to welcome visitors with a sign for its flagship industrial zone – a scheme designed to encourage industry in this impoverished part of northern Mali. But now the town has a new welcome notice. Someone has scrawled in broken French in huge red letters on the side of a wall on the outskirts of town: "Our soldiers are at war!"

    Read the full story


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    Source: Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de I'Homme
    Country: Mali

    FIDH and its member organisation in Mali, AMDH, note the legality of French and Malian military intervention against Jihadist groups in central Mali launched at the request of the country’s President. FIDH and AMDH call upon all belligerents to respect international humanitarian law and protect the civilian population.

    On 10 January 2013, the Malian military, supported by the French Army, intervened to halt Islamist rebels who had taken the town of Konna in the center of Mali and were advancing towards Mopti and Sévaré in the South. Malian and French forces have engaged in land and aerial operations against the Jihadist groups, who have been settled in the North of the country since May 2012. Terrorist training camps and logistical facilities are located particularly in Léré, Gao, Kidal, Douentza and Aghabo. On 14 January, the rebels took the town of Diabaly, 400 kilometers from Bamako, in a Malian government controlled area .

    "A military intervention is always a failure. However, in Mali’s current circumstances, the Malian authorities themselves have asked the international community, especially France and ECOWAS, for help, and, the UN Security Council has authorized such intervention in two resolutions" said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President.

    On 21 December 2012, the UN Security Council, acting under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, unanimously adopted resolution 2085, approving the deployment of an African-led international support mission (MISMA). This mission is to help Mali recapture Northern areas that have been under Islamist control for over 8 months. On 10 January, Malian President Dioncounda Traoré asked France to help stop the Jihadists’ advance.

    FIDH and AMDH welcomed the incorporation of human rights protection mechanisms into resolution 2085. These had been recommended by our organisations at recent meetings with members of the Security Council and other UN officials. The mechanisms are particularly important given some ten civilians death were reported during fighting in Konna. Moreover, 11 Malian soldiers are reported killed during this battle from the 11th January and witnesses speak of “dozens of Islamists corpses” found in the city of Konna.

    “The observance of human rights and humanitarian law is even more important now than in the past to restore the rights of all Malians” according to Mr Moctar Mariko, AMDH President. “The ability of the States engaged in this conflict to guarantee civilians’ physical integrity is a crucial condition of sucess”, he added.

    A state of emergency was decreed on 11 January throughout Malian territory. In Sévaré, Malian security services have commenced systematic searches of passengers at numerous checkpoints and arrested some people coming from Konna, found to have been concealing weapons in their baggage. Tension in the town run high after Ansar Dine declared: “We will make Mali and France pay for this war”. Unconfirmed rumours suggest that 9 individuals were arrested and summarily executed for their alleged links to Ansar Dine, whilst one person is reported to have disappeared after being accused of belonging to a Jihadist group.

    In this context, FIDH and AMDH remind parties that, on 18 July 2012, Mali referred the situation in the country since January 2012 to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor. The Court has thus opened a preliminary investigation. These crimes, committed by Northern armed groups since the beginning of their offensive, are outlined in FIDH report, War Crimes in North Mali.

    Our member organisations remind all concerned that if the ICC finds jurisdiction over crimes committed during the current conflict, any belligerent could be brought before the Court.

    “The ICC must open an investigation in order to ensure that military operations are strictly compliant with international law and that those crossing the red line will be prosecuted”, said Mr Sidiki Kaba, FIDH Honorary President. “Likewise, threats to hostages and terrorist actions targeting the civilian population would constitute war crimes and the perpetrators will be brought to justice”.


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    Source: Guardian
    Country: Somalia

    Overlooked by the state, children shining shoes for a living in the Somali capital are vulnerable to drugs, crime and militia gangs

    Hamza Mohamed in Mogadishu

    The muezzin calls for afternoon prayer. A small boy wearing torn trousers and a dirty, brown oversized T-shirt rushes from a shed. Holding a rusty paint tin, he stands at the entrance to Isbahaysiga mosque in Mogadishu, a short distance from Somalia's partially rebuilt houses of parliament.

    Read the full report on the Guardian.


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    Source: International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
    Country: Burkina Faso

    Burkina Faso has released two improved cowpea varieties to help advance better nutrition for women and children, and boost the incomes of farmers.

    The two varieties, IT99K-573-2-1 and IT98K-205-8, were developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and have undergone participatory varietal selection with farmers in the central and northern region of Burkina Faso. Local farmers and researchers selected the varieties from a basket of options after a two-year trial, thanks to funds from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

    The varieties being selected are early maturing and high yielding and are also resistant to Striga—a parasitic weed that limits the yield of cowpea.

    “These varieties mature in about 60 days as opposed to local varieties that mature in about 80-90 days,” says Dr Haruki Ishikawa, IITA Project Coordinator for the Appropriate Varieties of Early maturing Cowpea for Burkina Faso (AVEC-BF) project.

    Generally, cowpea is an important crop in Burkina Faso as it provides food and cash for farmers, and fodder for livestock. Most local varieties in the country record a yield of between 400 kg and 600 kg per hectare.

    “But the new varieties have a potential yield of 2170Kg/ha,” Dr Ishikawa said. Farmers love the varieties for their yield, color and cooking qualities and have given the varieties the following local names: Yiis yande for IT99K-573-2-1, meaning a crop that helps farmers to escape from shame arising from hunger; and Niizwe for IT98K-205-8, meaning a crop that has brought an end to hunger.

    Burkina Faso's Research, Science & Innovation Minister, Gnissa Isaïe Konaté, who is also a researcher, said that the physical qualities of the varieties such as color and bigger size were appealing and would make farmers more competitive in the region. “Also these varieties will help farmers to adapt better with climate change,” he added.

    Dr Satoru Muranaka, a scientist with the Japan International Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), who initiated the project while working for IITA, notes that the improved varieties offer a lot of benefits to farmers. “For instance, because these varieties are early maturing, they will help cowpea farmers to escape from drought. Also farmers now have a crop that they can harvest early, consume, and sell to generate income when other crops are still on the field. Such incomes help farmers to pay school fees for their children. Again, with protein content of about 20 percent, cowpea provides a good option to tackle malnutrition in local communities,” Dr Muranaka added.

    Dr. Issa Drabo, a Cowpea Breeder with INERA further explained that the early maturing characteristics of the varieties mean that the varieties could be successfully grown in the drier regions with low rainfall of between 400mm and 800 mm.

    The AVEC-BF project is a research for development project that aims to disseminate improved varieties. The project is developing new dissemination system for cowpea that combines selection of appropriate varieties for the region, community seed system, and farmer field school activities with the ultimate goal of improving access of farmers to improved varieties and technologies. Japanese Ambassador to Burkina Faso, His Excellency Tsutomu Sugiura called for the scaling up of the project, having recorded significant milestones in a short period of time. “This is the kind of project that should be supported to continue. I hope it will not stop at this stage,” he said.

    For information, please contact: Godwin Atser, g.atser@cgiar.org


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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines (the), Sudan (the), Syrian Arab Republic (the), World, South Sudan (Republic of)

    Significant achievements for children in a challenging year

    By Chris Niles

    NEW YORK, United States of America, 31 December 2012 – It’s been another challenging year for UNICEF and its partners – responding to a wide range of humanitarian needs under less-than-ideal financial circumstances.

    But significant gains have been realized, particularly in the fight against disease and child mortality.

    Strides against disease and child deaths

    Substantial progress has been made towards achieving Millennium Development Goal 4: Globally, the number of under-5 deaths has declined from nearly 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011.

    That means 14,000 fewer children are dying every day.

    The end of both HIV/AIDS and polio is in sight. The world has committed to ending new HIV infections by 2015, thanks to simpler drug regimens and the success of programmes that prevent mothers from passing the virus to their children.

    In September, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the most important meeting on polio eradication in the past 20 years. Although polio remains endemic in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, infections were reduced by 99 per cent between 1988 and 2011.

    “If we do not make history and eradicate polio in the coming months and years, then history will, rightly, judge us very, very harshly,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

    Partnerships

    2012 was a year of innovative partnerships. A Promise Renewed mobilized a broad international coalition to end preventable child deaths. Since its launch in June, more than half the world’s nations have signed the commitment.

    UNICEF is also committed to the Scaling up Nutrition movement, which brings together 30 countries, 27 global leaders and more than 100 organizations to tackle the issue of the 165 million children under 5 who are stunted.

    Helping children survive and thrive

    In the field, UNICEF responded to a wide range of humanitarian disasters in 2012.

    More than one million children are affected by conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. UNICEF is getting urgent supplies to them, as well as to the more than 200,000 refugee children in neighbouring countries.

    The drought crisis in the Sahel was one of the biggest challenges. More than 18 million people faced food insecurity in the region. An estimated 1.1 million children were in danger of death. In some countries, food insecurity was exacerbated by conflict, displacement and cholera. By the end of September, UNICEF had reached more than 730,000 severely malnourished children under 5 with life-saving treatment.

    In Pakistan, more than 100,000 children and women affected by flooding and insecurity received help and protection.

    UNICEF responded to renewed violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where, in 2012, the number of internally displaced persons was the highest it had been since 2009. More than 3,000 separated children were reunited with caregivers.

    And, amidst the challenging first year of independence in South Sudan, with political tension, an influx of refugees, and inter-tribal conflict, more than 350,000 children were reached with emergency water and sanitation.

    “We can be proud of our work every day to help children survive and thrive; to help girls achieve their potential; to protect children from violence and exploitation; to vaccinate every child and to eradicate polio; assure life-saving supplies; forge more diverse partnerships to accelerate results and so, so much more,” said Mr. Lake.


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    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Nigeria
    preview


    FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

    • Abundant rains in the major producing regions led in 2012 to increased crop production at national level

    • However, torrential rains from August through October caused flooding and damaged crops and livestock in several regions


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    Source: Government of France
    Country: Mali

    "Je voudrais faire le point sur la situation diplomatique de l’opération militaire au Mali. D’abord, je voudrais vous rappeler les objectifs de cette intervention que nous avons déclenchée à la demande des autorités maliennes pour répondre à une urgence.

    J’ai eu l’occasion hier de rappeler les trois objectifs et je veux vous les confirmer. Le premier, c’est de stopper l’offensive des groupes armés terroristes vers le sud qui menaçaient l’ensemble du Mali et notamment la capitale, Bamako. Cette opération est en cours et elle se déroule de façon satisfaisante. Le deuxième objectif, c’est d’éviter l’effondrement du Mali. Il s’agit de la condition sine qua non du retour du Mali à son intégrité territoriale. Le troisième objectif, c’est de permettre la mise en œuvre des résolutions internationales, que ce soit les Nations unies, l’Union africaine, la CEDEAO et l’Union européenne. Cela constitue bien entendu notre objectif principal. S’agissant des Nations unies, il faut avoir à l’esprit que trois volets doivent être traités : le volet sécuritaire - c’est une évidence -, le volet politique et le volet du développement.

    Cette intervention, je veux le souligner, s’inscrit dans le cadre strict de la légalité internationale. Elle répond à une demande formelle du président malien et elle est conduite en conformité avec la charte des Nations unies, en cohérence avec les résolutions des Nations unies 2056, 2071 et 2085. Le cadre, c’est donc l’organisation des Nations unies ; le demandeur, c’est le Mali ; nos partenaires, ce sont les Africains et la Communauté internationale. Nous n’avons évidemment pas vocation à agir seuls. Le soutien politique international dont nous disposons - je voudrais insister là-dessus - est quasi-unanime. Nous avons agi en toute transparence, nous avons informé l’ensemble de nos partenaires. Hier, le Secrétaire général des Nations unies, M. Ban KI-MOON, a tenu à m’appeler au téléphone longuement pour me confirmer – je le cite – que nous avions le plein soutien de l’organisation des Nations unies.

    J’ai personnellement été en contact avec beaucoup de mes homologues. J’en citerai plusieurs : il y a quelques instants avec Mme Ashton, la Haute Représentante pour l’Union européenne en politique étrangère ; avec les ministres des affaires étrangères d’Allemagne, M. Westerwelle, du Royaume-Uni, M. William Hague, d’Italie, M. Terzi, des Pays-Bas, M. Timmermans, du Danemark, M. Sovndal. Je me suis également entretenu avec le président du Sénégal, M. Macki Sall, avec mon homologue algérien, que je vais à nouveau contacter dans quelques instants, M.Medelci, avec Mme Zuma, la présidente de la Commission de l’Union africaine et avec la ministre des affaires étrangères d’Afrique du Sud, Mme Mashabane. Tous m’ont confirmé le soutien de leur pays.

    Ce matin, j’ai reçu le ministre des affaires étrangères du Mali, monsieur Coulibaly, qui m’a rendu visite pour faire le point au nom du président Traoré et du Premier ministre Cissoko, et m’a demandé de remettre au président français une lettre du président malien, remerciant chaleureusement et profondément le peuple français au nom du peuple malien. Ce soutien de nos partenaires internationaux est également opérationnel. Plusieurs pays sont engagés à nos côtés : le Royaume-Uni fournit des avions de transport tactiques et stratégiques ; l’Allemagne examine une aide logistique, humanitaire et médicale ; les Belges nous fournissent les moyens de transport et le Danemark aussi ; les Etats-Unis nous apportent un soutien dans le domaine du transport, des communications et du renseignement. Les préparatifs s’accélèrent pour le déploiement d’une force ouest-africaine. Le Nigeria doit fournir 600 hommes. Le Niger, le Burkina-Faso, le Togo et le Sénégal ont annoncé l’envoi chacun de contingents d’environ 500 hommes et le Bénin, 300. Le Tchad devrait également fournir un contingent important ; d’autres soutiens encore sont annoncés. Cette mobilisation internationale est essentielle car la France n’a pas vocation à rester seule aux côtés du Mali. Les décisions prises avant Noël par l’ONU, l’Union africaine, la CEDEAO et l’Union européenne ouvrent la voie à une opération internationale, africaine en premier lieu.

    C’est à la mise en œuvre rapide de ces décisions que nous travaillons aujourd’hui. Nous travaillons en étroite concertation avec les Nations unies. Une nouvelle réunion du Conseil de sécurité consacrée au Mali se tient à notre demande cet après-midi même à New York. Notre objectif est celui d’un déploiement aussi rapide que possible de ce qu’on appelle la MISMA, c’est-à-dire la mission de soutien au Mali. L’Etat-major est déjà en cours de déploiement à Bamako. Une conférence aura lieu demain sur place afin de planifier le déploiement des troupes. Une conférence des donateurs aura lieu à Addis-Abeba à la fin du mois de janvier en marge du sommet de l’Union africaine.

    Je viens de parler à Mme Ashton qui m’a confirmé qu’une réunion exceptionnelle du conseil des ministres des affaires étrangères de l’Union européenne se tiendra cette semaine afin d’examiner la situation au Mali. Nous y prendrons des décisions permettant d’accélérer le déploiement de la mission de formation et de conseil de l’Union européenne auprès de l’armée malienne. Nous devrons examiner aussi la participation que nos partenaires européens peuvent apporter au déploiement de cette MISMA.

    J’ajoute que tout est fait évidemment pour la sécurité des Français sur place au Mali et dans l’ensemble de la région. Le dispositif de sécurité a été renforcé notamment par l’envoi de gendarmes du GIGN. Le lycée français de Bamako est fermé cette semaine pour permettre une évaluation précise des questions de sécurité et éviter au maximum la prise de risques. Concernant les otages, chacun comprend l’inquiétude des familles qui est légitime. Le directeur du centre de crise, M. Didier Le Bret, est en contact permanent avec ces familles. Je viens moi-même cet après-midi de recevoir la famille de l’otage Gilberto Rodrigues Leal, à qui j’ai redit la détermination de la France.

    Tout est mis en œuvre pour limiter les risques mais ce n’est pas en laissant le Mali devenir un sanctuaire terroriste que nous protégerons les otages. Ce sont en effet ces mêmes groupes, il faut toujours l’avoir à l’esprit, qui détiennent nos otages et qui risquaient de se trouver demain maîtres totaux du Mali si nous n’étions pas intervenus.

    Voilà, Mesdames et Messieurs de la presse, le contexte international à l’heure où je m’exprime. En intervenant au Mali, la France assume ses responsabilités internationales et remplit ses obligations internationales. Des intérêts essentiels étaient en jeu pour nous, pour l’Afrique, pour l’Europe et pour l’ensemble de la communauté internationale et il fallait donc agir. L’urgence nous a imposé d’agir vite mais nos partenaires européens, africains et aux Nations Unies montrent aujourd’hui qu’ils sont prêts à répondre eux aussi présents.

    Q - Une colonne djihadiste a pris la ville de Diabali qui est à l’ouest du pays ; est-ce que ceci vous inquiète ?

    R - J’ai eu en effet ces informations, en liaison avec mon collègue ministre de la Défense, qui m’a confirmé ce que vous venez de dire à l’instant. Il s’agit à la fois d’être très actifs et vigilants sur la partie Ouest et, en même temps, actifs et vigilants sur la partie Est. Nos forces ont reçu l’instruction de traiter cela.

    Q – Concernant la Somalie, il y a eu des tweets particulièrement frappants cet après-midi. Quel commentaire faites-vous de ces tweets des photos qui ont été publiées par les Shebabs somaliens ?

    R - Vous avez su bien sûr cette issue tragique, qui a coûté la vie nos ressortissants. Nous avions mis en garde contre toute instrumentalisation. Je l’avais fait hier, tout comme mon ami et collègue Jean-Yves Le Drian. Nous condamnons l’instrumentalisation de ce qu’il faut bien appeler des assassinats.

    Q - Il y a des informations selon lesquelles le chef d’Ansar Dine a été blessé dans un raid par des frappes françaises ; est-ce que vous pouvez nous le confirmer ?

    R - Il y a beaucoup d’informations, mais avant de confirmer tout cela, des vérifications sont nécessaires. Elles sont actuellement en cours.

    Q - Est-ce que la France connaît les lieux où sont détenus les otages et est-ce que quelque chose dans ce cas est fait pour éviter que le risque vienne de la France dans des bombardements ?

    R - Vous savez que nous avons adopté depuis le début une stratégie qui est d’agir au maximum et de rester également les plus discrets possible car toute indication donnée pourrait être utilisée par les ravisseurs contre les otages. Donc vous me permettrez de rester très discret sur ces points.

    Q - Est-ce que vous espérez que le soutien algérien aille au-delà du simple survol du territoire ? Est-ce que vous avez des assurances à ce sujet ?

    R - Le Premier ministre Cissoko était en déplacement en Algérie. Je crois qu’à l’heure actuelle, il doit retourner dans son pays. Moi-même, je compte m’entretenir à la fin de l’après-midi, après vous avoir quittés, avec les autorités algériennes. Nous ferons le point, mais j’ai eu l’occasion de dire que les autorités algériennes qui évidemment, comme nous, sont préoccupées par ce qui se passe à leur porte, après avoir elles-mêmes été très durement touchées par le terrorisme pendant des années, mesurent la gravité de tout cela. Les autorités algériennes avaient autorisé nos avions à survoler leur pays. Nous sommes en contact étroit avec elles et nous allons le rester.

    Q – (concernant le soutien du Royaume-Uni)

    R - La Grande-Bretagne immédiatement nous a apporté son soutien. M. David CAMERON a précisé cela au président français. William Hague m’a appelé personnellement et nous constatons une fois de plus que lorsque les situations sont difficiles, les Britanniques sont à nos côtés. D’autres nations le sont également bien sûr. Nous avons donc une réunion qui sera convoquée par Mme Ashton qui m’a dit tout à l’heure qu’elle envisageait cette réunion cette semaine, dans deux jours ou trois jours. A cette occasion, le point sera fait sur la situation avec tous nos collègues européens et nous déciderons certainement une confirmation et une accélération de ce à quoi s’est engagée l’Europe en matière de formation. Et puis il y aura bien sûr des gestes individuels qui seront faits par beaucoup de pays, parmi lesquels la Grande-Bretagne, la Belgique, le Danemark, et d’autres encore. Nul doute que les Européens seront aux côtés des Maliens et à nos côtés puisque c’est évidemment le Mali et l’Afrique qui sont en jeu mais également l’Europe. En effet je crois que tout le monde l’a compris, ce qui explique le soutien international et le soutien de la population, c’est que si le terrorisme se développe, c’est évidemment l’ensemble de l’Afrique et par contrecoup l’Europe qui sont visés.

    Q - Je voudrais revenir sur la prise de la ville de Diabali par les islamistes. Est-ce que vous vous y attendiez et quelles sont les conséquences sur le terrain de la prise de cette ville s’il vous plaît ?

    R - Je préfère, sur l’aspect proprement militaire, vous renvoyer à mon collègue de la Défense.

    Q - Sur le déploiement des forces africaines, est-ce que vous pensez que c’est une question d’heures, de jours ou de semaines pour ce déploiement des troupes combattantes ? Deuxième question, sur les consignes pour les entreprises françaises au Mali - je pense au secteur du BTP -, est-ce qu’ils continuent à travailler ou est-ce que leurs chantiers ont été arrêtés et est-ce qu’éventuellement vous rapatriez…

    R - Sur le premier point, je vous ai dit que le chef d’Etat-major était maintenant à pied d’œuvre, que les annonces de contingents de troupes africaines avaient commencé d’être collectées et, bien évidemment, les autorités militaires et civiles vont faire le maximum pour que ces troupes soient engagées très rapidement, le plus rapidement possible bien sûr.

    Sur la deuxième question, celle des entreprises, là où la maîtrise est assurée par les Maliens, il n’y a aucun problème. Evidemment quand il s’agit des zones qui sont en difficulté ou sous le contrôle encore des terroristes, il n’y aura pas d’activité, mais il n’y en avait déjà pas.

    Q - Est-ce que vous pouvez nous donner quand même un élément de calendrier plus précis sur le déploiement des forces africaines au Mali ? Vous dites le plus rapidement possible, mais ça veut dire quoi ? Ça veut dire que la France va être seule pendant toute cette semaine sur les opérations ou vous attendez des déploiements dès cette semaine ? Est-ce que ça se compte en jours ou en semaines ou en mois ?

    R è Je peux simplement vous dire que le plus vite, à l’évidence sera le mieux. Il y a des questions de transport mais grâce en particulier à l’appui qui nous est donné par un certain nombre de pays, ces transports sont en train d’être mis en place. Une nouvelle fois, mon collègue de la Défense chargé de ces questions sera peut-être plus précis que moi mais l’objectif politique est clair, c’est d’agir au plus vite.

    Q - Sur l’Algérie, est-ce que vous considérez que l’Algérie soutient l’opération, la politique française au Mali ? C’est un soutien plein et entier ?

    R - Je ne vais pas m’exprimer à la place de nos amis algériens. Ils diront ce qu’ils souhaitent dire. Nous sommes, nous avons été et nous restons en contact étroit avec eux. Lorsque nous avons fait une demande de survol, elle nous a été immédiatement accordée.

    Q - Je voudrais savoir ce qu’il en a été de la réunion avec votre homologue malien – il est venu adresser des remerciements, certes, mais il a peut-être eu également quelques demandes précises ? R - Nous avons fait le point de la situation bien sûr puisque c’est lui qui représente le gouvernement malien. Nous avons parlé de la situation sur le terrain, ainsi que de la situation psychologique. Nous avons également fait le point sur les questions que vous avez posées et qui sont légitimes, concernant l’apport des troupes africaines, la conférence des donateurs, mais aussi la nécessité de mener aujourd’hui une action de nature sécuritaire. Il reste nécessaire de traiter aussi les aspects politiques et les questions liées au développement dans un futur proche. Nous avons bien évidemment pris l’ensemble du sujet et nous allons nous revoir rapidement car il est très possible qu’il se joigne à nous pour la réunion qui aura lieu en Europe entre les ministres des affaires étrangères."


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    01/16/2013 12:26 GMT

    DJEDDAH (Arabie Saoudite), 16 jan 2013 (AFP) - L'Organisation de la coopération islamique (OCI) a déclaré mercredi soutenir les actions visant au recouvrement de l'intégrité territoriale du Mali, revenant ainsi sur son appel à un "cessez-le-feu immédiat" après le lancement d'une opération française.

    Le secrétaire général de l'OCI, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, a affirmé, dans un communiqué, son "soutien total et sa solidarité avec la République du Mali dans ses efforts pour récupérer les zones nord sous contrôle de groupes armés afin de restaurer son unité nationale et recouvrer son unité territoriale".

    M. Ihsanoglu a assuré soutenir la résolution 2085 du Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU autorisant le déploiement d'une force africaine au Mali.

    Il a accueilli avec satisfaction l'annonce de l'envoi de troupes de plusieurs Etats africains et appelé à toute forme d'assistance à cette force pour l'aider à "remplir son mandat consistant à préserver la paix et la stabilité de toute la région".

    Ces déclarations marquent un changement de position du chef de l'OCI, qui avait appelé mardi à un "cessez-le-feu immédiat" au Mali et à un retour aux négociations entre autorités maliennes et islamistes contrôlant le nord du Mali.

    L'OCI, basée à Jeddah, en Arabie saoudite, regroupe 57 pays, dont le Mali.

    La France a lancé vendredi une intervention militaire pour stopper la progression de combattants islamistes vers la capitale Bamako.

    Paris a obtenu lundi le soutien de principe de ses partenaires du Conseil de sécurité, même si certains s'interrogent sur la suite des événements.

    Le président français François Hollande, en visite à Abou Dhabi, a annoncé mardi un renforcement du dispositif militaire français au Mali en attendant le déploiement de forces africaines. La France déploiera "progressivement" 2.500 soldats au Mali, selon l'entourage du ministre de la Défense, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

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    © 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
    Country: Mali

    The Secretary General of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu has reaffirmed the full support and solidarity with the Republic of Mali in its efforts to expeditiously recover areas in the north of its territory under the control of armed groups in order to restore its national unity and territorial integrity.

    In this context, Ihsanoglu reiterated the support of the OIC for UNSC resolution 2085 of 20th December 2012 which authorized the deployment of an African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA).

    The Secretary General welcomed the troop contributions announced by some OIC Member States in West Africa and appealed to others in outside the region to extend all possible form of assistance to AFISMA for the fulfillment of its mandate in order to preserve the peace and stability of the wider region.


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    Source: MSF
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger (the)

    Below is an update on Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)’s activities in Mali by region.

    Douentza

    • On Monday in Douentza, the MSF team working in the local hospital spent most of the day in hiding, waiting for the bombing to stop
    • The team did not receive any wounded patients following the attacks

    Timbuktu

    • Last weekend in Timbuktu, MSF treated nine wounded people, three of whom required surgery

    Konna

    • MSF teams are prioritising attempts to reach the town of Konna and surrounding area, located in the centre of the country
    • MSF is negotiating access to the region in order to assess medical and humanitarian needs; once access has been attained, MSF plans to carry out mobile clinics and will be able to transfer wounded patients to the city of Mopti, where we have been working for several months

    Gao

    • MSF is organising mobile clinics on the outskirts of the city of Gao and working at the Ansongo hospital, 100 kilometres south of the city

    Neighbouring countries: Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso

    • MSF is also concerned about the fate of civilians fleeing the interior of the country and new refugees arriving in the neighbouring countries of Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso
    • Nearly 500 refugees recently crossed the border with Mauritania, arriving at the Fassala camp; MSF’s medical teams checked their health and vaccinated children against measles
    • MSF reports that more than 400 new refugees have also arrived in Burkina Faso and Niger

    MSF’s teams in Mali include approximately 450 Malian and 50 international staff. For the last several months, they have been working in Mali in the regions of Gao, Timbuktu and Mopti, providing primarily surgical and medical care and nutritional services. MSF is also working in the southern part of the country, with nutritional activities in the region of Koutiala, and with Malian refugees in the neighbouring countries of Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso.

    For more information or for interviews, please contact Sandra Smiley, MSF UK Press Officer, on +44 7889 178 472.


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    Source: IRIN
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger (the)

    BAMAKO/DAKAR, 16 January 2013 (IRIN) - Fear and rumour are rife in Mali as French military air strikes against Islamist militants continued for the sixth day in the centre and north of the country.

    Information is limited on the number of Malians who have fled the violence, or fear being caught in clashes, but the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates at least 30,000 people have abandoned their homes in recent days.

    The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says according to rough preliminary estimates, 1,230 people have fled to Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, 90 percent of them women.

    Refugees arrived in eastern Mauritania from Léré and surrounding villages; in Mangaize camp (north of Ouallam), as well as in Banibangou and Tillabéry towns and the Tillia area in Niger; and in Damba and Mentao camps, as well as the second-largest town, Bobo Dioulasso, in Burkina Faso.

    Many people have fled Konna, Amba, Boré and Douentza in Mopti Region, where intense fighting took place on 12-13 January, according to eye-witnesses. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) assessed 445 arrivals in Mopti and Sévaré, most of whom were staying with host families.

    “People are continuing to flee for the south for fear of reprisal killings from Islamists who are now assimilated among the local population, and for fear of French attacks,” said a journalist and resident in Sévaré, Mamouou Bocoum. “I understand them, we are in a really difficult situation here.”

    According to a partner of UNHCR, local NGO the Commission on Population Movements in Mali, unconfirmed estimates indicate 5,000 people - half of Konna’s population - have fled across the River Niger.

    Recent movements add to the 400,000 Malians already displaced across the region.

    Islamists mixing with civilians

    Islamists remain in Konna and Diabaly - both scenes of heavy fighting - many of them embedding themselves within the civilian population, according to French forces and eye-witnesses.

    Civilians and humanitarians are deeply concerned that civilians could be mistakenly targeted in the fighting.

    More French ground troops are arriving imminently, bringing French forces up to 2,500. French military chiefs have said they will do their utmost to avoid civilian casualties.

    Access shrinking

    The wide dispersal of Islamist groups into the population has humanitarians worried that the combat zone will continue to widen, and humanitarian access continue to shrink, NGO workers told IRIN.

    Mali head of NGO Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Sean Gallagher said staff are very concerned about accessing the displaced in Mopti Region, as the French and Malian military are getting increasingly restrictive.

    A number of aid agencies suspended their operations in Mopti Region during and after the fighting in Konna and Douentza, angering some locals. Journalist Mamouou Bocoum told IRIN: “The humanitarian organizations have left town for security reasons - that’s not right. It’s now that we need them here to help the displaced.”

    CRS pulled out of Sévaré temporarily but plans to continue working in the region and supporting the displaced with food and possibly cash transfers, once it has finished assessing the situation, Gallagher told IRIN.

    ICRC and the Mali Red Cross are currently trying to step up their distributions of food aid, medical care and water to people in the north and in Mopti Region, said spokesperson Germain Mwehu.

    “Our major concern is that this intervention is taking place in a [northern] context that has already seen a food security crisis, and very difficult humanitarian conditions,” Mwehu told IRIN.

    As of 14 January just US$2 million of the $370 million needed had been raised to cover humanitarian operations in Mali in 2013, according to OCHA.

    Northerners flee to bush

    French air strikes in Gao and Kidal on 13 January in territory held by Islamist groups since April 2012, targeted rebel training camps, say eye-witnesses.

    Hundreds of residents of Kidal Region’s main towns, Kidal and Tessalit, fled into the bush where they have set up small camps.

    Doctors of the World (MDM) advocacy officer Olivier Vandecasteele told IRIN: “Rumour is rife. People [in Kidal Region] are either staying in their homes or fleeing from towns, which puts their access to health care in jeopardy.” MDM, which runs the hospital and 20 health clinics across Kidal, is worried about hundreds of severely malnourished children whose treatment will be interrupted as a result.

    MDM has treated 2,050 malnourished children in Kidal and Gao since September 2012 and admitted 400 new infants in Kidal in December alone, said Vandescasteele.

    “Populations are exhausting their resilience - it’s been close to a year since their problems started. Families have gone through a major food crisis and a humanitarian crisis, and are now on the move again. This worries us,” Vandescasteele told IRIN. “We should do mobile health teams to reach these people, but we need to do some more security checks before we take the risk.”

    Gao residents said Islamist groups fled following the air strikes. Before leaving, they brought 30 or so bodies to the hospital morgue, said Alousseyni Maïga, a teacher in Gao city.

    Some residents expressed relief at their departure. Resident Amahani Touré told IRIN: “Thank you God. For two days we’ve worn what we wanted to and felt our liberty again... the religious zealots have been chased out. Let’s hope that they don’t return.”

    Telephone lines to Gao have since been cut.

    Air strikes have not targeted Timbuktu in the north. NGO Médecins sans Frontières, which works in the hospital there, said they had received patients injured by fighting that was taking place a seven-hour drive away.

    More troops on way

    In addition to more French troops, the first African troops are to set off within the week from Nigeria to Mali to shore up the French military offensive. Senegal, Niger, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso have all confirmed they are sending soldiers imminently.

    The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), France and its fellow UN Security Council members want to speed up the deployment of a UN-mandated, 3,300-strong West African intervention force in Mali.

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    Source: European Union
    Country: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger (the), Senegal

    The EU has a comprehensive approach to the crisis in the Sahel region. In March 2011, the Council welcomed the presentation of an EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel. This strategy is based on the assumptions that development and security are interconnected and can be mutually supportive and that the complex crisis in the Sahel requires a regional answer. On 23 July, the Council adopted conclusions aimed at accelerating the implementation of this strategy.

    The EU is concerned by the deteriorating political, security, humanitarian and human rights situation in the Sahel region since early 2000. This situation predates the Libyan crisis, but was further exacerbated by its consequences.
    \ In this context, the EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel, which is currently being implemented in Mauritania, Niger and Mali, has proven a useful tool to enhance the coherence of the EU approach to the crisis. The EU has allocated over € 660 million to the region under the 10th European Development Fund (2007-2013). In the framework of its Sahel strategy; the EU has further mobilised additional financial resources for development and security related projects worth € 167 million along the four lines of action of the strategy:

    (i) Development, good governance and internal conflict resolution;

    (ii) Political and diplomatic action;

    (iii) Security and the rule of law; and

    (iv) Countering violent extremism and radicalisation.

    Since fighting erupted in early 2012 in northern Mali, groups of various affiliations – most of them with well documented links to Al-Qaida – are expanding their influence and establishing safe havens for terrorist and criminal activities. Violence has forced 446,000 Malians to flee their homes and further aggravated the food crisis. More than 18 million people are at risk of hunger throughout the Sahel region. In this context, the European Commission committed € 172 million under its humanitarian aid budget and launched an international partnership for resilience in the Sahel region (Alliance Globale pour l'Initiative Resilience - AGIR).

    On the situation in Mali, the Foreign Affairs Council expressed the EU's determination to support Mali in restoring constitutional order and the rule of law and re-establishing a fully sovereign democratic government with authority throughout Malian territory. Previous Council conclusions indicate that:

    • the EU will gradually resume its development cooperation, which has been put on hold following the coup d'état of 21 March 2012, as soon as a credible road map towards these objectives is adopted and in the light of tangible progress;

    • the EU will provide financial support to the African-led international support mission to Mali (AFISMA) through the African Peace Facility;

    • the EU will establish a training mission (EUTM) with the aim to train Malian forces advise them notably on command and control, logistical chain and human resources as well as on international humanitarian law, the protection of civilians and human rights. The mission will not be involved in combat operations.

    The EU is committed to contributing actively to a peaceful and credible transition process in Mali and to long-lasting solutions to the security crisis in northern Mali and in the Sahel region across the board, in close coordination with other regional and international stakeholders.

    Diplomatic efforts with national, regional and international stakeholders The EU pursues diplomatic efforts with national, regional and international stakeholders who have an interest in resolving the crisis in the Sahel region. The EU is in constant dialogue at the highest level with the authorities in charge of the political transition in Mali.

    The EU is in favour of an enhanced international coordination and considers that the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy Mr Romano Prodi should play an important role to this end.

    The EU is a core member of the international Support and Follow Up Group on the situation in Mali co-chaired by the African Union and the UN. The EU has also strong working relations with ECOWAS and Algeria and Mauritania.

    Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) civilian mission "EUCAP SAHEL iger"
    The EU launched a civilian CSDP mission EUCAP SAHEL in Niger in July 2012 with the objective to fight terrorism and organised crime. Over its initial two years mandate, the mission will aim at:

    (a) Advising and assisting in the implementation of the security dimension of the Nigerien Strategy for Security and Development at national level, with other actors,

    (b) Supporting regional and international coordination in the fight against terrorism and organised crime,

    (c) Strengthening the rule of law through the development of the criminal investigation capacities and adequate training programmes,

    (d) Enhancing the sustainability of Nigerien Security Forces (Gendarmerie, Garde Nationale and Police Nationale),

    (e) Contributing to the identification, planning and implementation of projects in the security field.
    With an annual budget of € 8.7 million, the mission will rely by December 2012 on 50 international police and military experts under the authority of the Head of Mission, Colonel Francisco Espinosa Navas. A coordination mechanism between the mission and the relevant ministries is already in place under the auspices of the Prime Minister. Particular attention will be given to synergies with other EU and bilateral projects funded through the European Development Fund, the European Commission Instrument for Stability or by EU member states.

    Liaison Officers have already been already deployed to Bamako and Nouakchott, to foster regional cooperation between the security forces of Niger, Mali and Mauritania in their fight against terrorism and organised crime, as well as to explore the opportunity to propose future actions at the request of relevant national authorities.

    Response to the food crisis and long-term food insecurity in the Sahel region The Western Sahel region suffers from chronic food insecurity, linked to national under-production, increase of food prices on international markets or local agricultural over-production which causes rapid price fluctuations. Some specific areas are constantly suffering from food insecurity. In the countries of the Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) acute malnutrition rates are persistently above the internationally recognised alert threshold of 10% Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate. An estimated 226,000 children in average die because of malnutrition or directly related causes every year, whether or not there is a crisis.

    The 2012 crisis had a bigger than usual impact in a large number of countries across the Sahel region, including the northern zones of some coastal countries in West Africa.

    The difficulties to secure adequate food supply and decent income in the Sahel region are due to:

    · Climate change and ecosystem degradation increase the unpredictability of rainfall.

    · Population growth is among the highest in the world (on average, the population of the Sahel doubles every 25 years). This increases pressure on natural resources and food supply.

    · Chronic poverty. The Sahel states rank at the bottom of the 2011 UN Human Development Index (Niger ranks 186, Burkina Faso 181, Chad 183, Mali 175 and Mauritania 159 out of the 187 countries listed).

    · Regional economic disparity (between Sahel countries and coastal countries) and low resistance to external economic shocks (e.g. the food price crisis of 2008) contribute significantly to the fragility of the Sahel. As a result, food insecurity in the Sahel is primarily a matter of income and not production. For example, Senegal, which imports nearly half of its food consumption needs, is less food insecure than Niger. As another example, widespread lack of economic access to basic healthcare contributes substantially to malnutrition among children under five and pregnant and breastfeeding women.

    · Weakness of public finances and national institutions in some countries hampers adequate responses to the increasing frequency of crises that affects the region. However, large-scale funding by donors, including the European Commission, has contributed to some improvements in recent years.
    The on-going emergency and the recurrent nature of the crisis in the Sahel call for both an immediate response to help the people in need and a long-term strategy to reduce the chronic risks of food security and strengthen people's resilience.

    Humanitarian aid The Commission allocated a total of € 337 million of humanitarian aid to respond to the crisis in the Sahel region in 2012.

    To reinforce the capacities of the countries to cope with the present situation, the EU has adopted a three-phased approach based on close coordination between international humanitarian, development aid agencies and national governments. The main phases and their timeframe for the 2012 crisis are 'mitigation and preparedness' (November 2011 – February 2012), 'emergency response' (March – September 2012) and ‘recovery/resilience building’ (after September 2012).

    Long-term EU development response In addition to humanitarian support, the EU is operating development programmes, funded through the EU budget and the European Development Fund. Projects for over € 200 million are currently on-going or planned in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad.

    Due to the aggravation of the food crisis the European Commission decided to allocate an additional € 164.5 million. It will be divided between six countries in the West Africa region as follows: Mauritania (€ 13 million), Burkina Faso (€ 17 million), Mali (€ 15 million), Niger (€42.5 million), Chad (€ 35 million), Senegal (€ 5 million) and other West African regional initiatives (€ 38 million).

    The EU will continue and intensify the work it has been carrying out in the region: strengthening resilience, working on the root causes of malnutrition, improving the functioning of regional markets, and increasing the regional and national capacity to reduce the risks of disasters.

    More Information:
    EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel CSDP civilian mission "EUCAP SAHEL Niger"
    Factsheet on the EU training mission in Mali Response to the food crisis and long-term food insecurity in the Sahel region of Africa


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    Source: Solidarités International
    Country: Mali, Mauritania, Niger (the)

    Présentes depuis avril 2012 au Mali, les équipes de SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL renforcent leurs capacités de réponse humanitaire au nord du Mali et dans les pays frontaliers.

    SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL intervient en Mauritanie et au Mali auprès des populations touchées par la crise malienne depuis le début 2012.

    ‘’En conséquence des affrontements en cours, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL maintient ses activités en cours au Nord comme au Sud du Mali dans les zones de Diré, Kidal et Kolokani, ainsi qu’en Mauritanie dans la zone d’accueil des réfugiés, à Fassala, indique Hélène Quéau, responsable de nos opérations dans le Sahel.’’

    L’association humanitaire renforce ses capacités de diagnostic et de réponse en urgence dans la zone de Mopti et tout le long du fleuve Niger grâce à des équipes mobiles circulant par voie fluviale, indique Franck Abeille, notre chef de mission depuis Bamako.’’

    ‘’Notre action, explique Franck Abeille, notre chef de mission depuis Bamako, vise à aider les gens à faire face à de multiples risques humanitaires: arrivée de déplacés ou réfugiés qui ont besoin de boire, de manger et de s’abriter, insécurité alimentaire avec des taux de malnutrition au-dessus du seuil d’urgence et présence endémique de choléra, Afin de prévenir la probable dégradation des conditions de vie des populations, nos équipes lancent actuellement de nouveaux diagnostics dans les zones à risque.’’

    Actions en cours

    • aide alimentaire,
    • installation de stations de traitement de l’eau et d’electrochlorateurs (machines à fabriquer du chlore pour potabiliser l’eau)
    • réhabilitation des points d’eau
    • distribution de kits hygiène
    • soutien en eau, hygiène et assainissement dans les centres de santé et les écoles
    • prise en charge en eau, hygiène et assainissement des réfugiés maliens dans le camp de Mberra en Mauritanie

    Toutes nos équipes présentes dans la zone sahélienne adaptent leurs actions aux potentiels mouvements de populations.

    Intervenant depuis février dans le camp de Mberra, en Mauritanie, nos équipes se préparent à prendre en charge les nouveaux réfugiés qui affluent au point frontière de Fassala par centaines depuis le week-end dernier. ‘’Nous sommes prêts si besoin à augmenter l’approvisionnement en eau et les solutions d’assainissement pour ces réfugiés avant qu’ils rejoignent le camp où 55 000 personnes vivent actuellement, explique Philippe Labbé Lavigne, notre chef de mission en Mauritanie.’’

    Au Niger, dans la zone de Tillaberi, nos équipes suivent également la situation de près et se coordonnent avec les autres acteurs humanitaires pour une éventuelle action en cas d’arrivée massive de réfugiés.

    Dans la situation présente, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL appelle les parties au conflit à épargner les populations civiles et à préserver leur accès à l’aide humanitaire.

    CONTACT PRESSE Renaud Douci - 01 80 21 05 94 / 06 98 96 58 35 - rdouci@solidarites.org
    Pour toute interview & information complémentaire, nous vous mettrons en relation avec Hélène Quéau, responsable de nos opérations au Sahel, Franck Abeille, notre chef de mission au Mali et Philippe Labbé-Lavigne, notre chef de mission en Mauritanie.

    SOLIDARITES INTERNATIONAL est une association d’aide humanitaire d’urgence qui, depuis plus de 30 ans, porte secours aux populations victimes de conflits armés et de catastrophes naturelles selon les principes humanitaires de neutralité, d’impartialité et d’indépendance. Notre mission, répondre à leurs besoins vitaux : boire, manger, s’abriter. Fortes de notre expérience des crises humanitaires les plus sévères, (RDC, Afghanistan, Haïti, Balkans, Rwanda, Indonésie, Darfour, Somalie), nos équipes développent une expertise reconnue dans le domaine de l’accès à l’eau potable, à l’hygiène et à l’assainissement, mais aussi dans ceux essentiels de la sécurité alimentaire et de la reconstruction. www.solidarites.org


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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger (the)

    NIAMEY, Niger, January 16 (UNHCR) – Upriver from Niamey, in Mali, heavy combat is triggering a fresh displacement of civilians. But despite funding shortages, the UN refugee agency is ready to respond to any deepening of the humanitarian crisis, including an outflow to neighbouring Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso

    "We have been preparing contingency plans and getting ready on the ground to ensure that we can deal with various possible scenarios," said Karl Steinacker, the UNHCR representative in Niger. "The provision of water, sanitation and hygiene, health, education, protection from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and child protection are our main priorities," he added.

    UNHCR's offices in Bamako, Mali as well as other neighbouring capitals have also prepared contingency plans in the past few months with other UN agencies, NGOs and national authorities to cope with a further possible population displacement of 300,000 internally displaced people (IDP) inside Mali and 407,000 to surrounding countries.

    The situation in Mali, which has been embroiled in political upheaval for the past year, escalated last week when the French military intervened to help Malian government troops halt an advance toward the capital, Bamako, by Islamists linked to Al Qaeda.

    Since these developments in the military situation, there has been a noticeable increase in the number crossing into neighbouring countries – almost 1,500 have crossed into Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso since last Friday. The figures could multiply if the combat intensifies and persists. UNHCR teams are monitoring the borders.

    "Refugees are telling us they fled the ongoing military intervention, the absence of subsistence opportunities and basic services, and the imposition of Sharia law," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said in Geneva on Tuesday.

    UN staff reported that 460 refugees had made their way to western Niger's Mangaize camp or the Tillia, Banibangou and Tillabery sites. In Burkina Faso's Sahel region, UNHCR teams at Mentao and Demba camps on Wednesday reported 497 new arrivals from Mali. Most said they had come from the Gao, Timbuktu and Mopti regions, citing the military intervention as one of their main reasons for fleeing.

    UNHCR and its partners are providing new arrivals at reception centres with food, water and medical care prior to their transfer to refugee camps. In Burkina Faso, eight new arrivals have been hospitalized with measles. The refugee agency hopes to conduct a border monitoring mission soon to assess the situation there.

    In Mauritania, the number of people arriving at the Fassala transit centre had risen to 681 as of yesterday, mostly women and children from Lere in central Mali's Timbuktu area. They told UNHCR they had fled for fear of bombardment of the town, which was attacked at the weekend.

    UNHCR personnel in Mauritania took part in a joint assessment mission to the border with Mali at the weekend and reported that people were being allowed to cross. New arrivals are registered at the Fassala centre before being taken to Mbera camp, which is hosting more than 54,000 refugees from previous displacements last year.

    Meanwhile, in UNHCR's Niamey office, opened in February last year a month after the crisis in Mali erupted when Mali government soldiers fought with Tuareg rebels, the refugee agency has been working to assure adequate assistance and protection in Niger, despite many challenges, including insecurity, drought and food shortages.

    The border areas, which have received most of the refugees from Mali, are under-developed and are difficult to reach. Logistical constraints are compounded by poor infrastructure and the harsh climatic conditions, which include flooding during the rainy season. "The sustainability of an operation like this is always a challenge for UNHCR. We need to make sure that there are enough resources to meet all the needs," stressed Steinacker. This includes funding: UNHCR appealed last year for US$123.7 million for its Mali crisis operations, but has received only about 60 per cent to date.

    Steinacker said that UNHCR and the authorities had also been conducting a more comprehensive registration of all refugees in Niger. Once this is completed, some of the estimated 50,000 Malian refugees in Niger will be relocated away from the dangerous border areas. It will also provide better and more reliable data on needs.

    Inside Mali, population movements remain very fluid while lack of access to the rebel-controlled north makes it difficult for humanitarian agencies to update displacement figures. As of Tuesday, the Commission on Population Movements reported that almost 230,000 people had been forcibly displaced in Mali since early 2012. There are also an estimated 144,500 Malian refugees in the region, including 54,000 in Mauritania, 50,000 in Niger, 38,800 in Burkina Faso and 1,500 in Algeria. Small groups are also in Guinea and Togo.

    Many of the IDPs in Mali have sought shelter in urban areas like Bamako, but life is tough. Like many IDPs, 40-year-old Oulamine is struggling to make ends meet. He fled from the Timbuktu region several weeks ago with his wife and three children and reached the town of Mpoti after travelling for 10 days by canoe on the Niger River. They then rented a car to reach Bamako. He pays the equivalent of US$60 a month to rent a room in the capital and says, "I will not be able to afford this for long." He also has to pay for electricity while the family has no access to running water. "Medicine and food for the family is also expensive," he said.

    By William Spindler, Helene Caux and Charles-Arthur Pierre-Jacques


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Cameroon, Chad
    preview


    HIGHLIGHTS

    • According to forecasts by UNICEF, 126,000 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2013 in Chad.

    • All of the Chadian refugees in Langui in Cameroon have been repatriated, according to UNHCR.

    • A resilience pilot will be launched this year in the Sila region to develop a model that is more adapted to a complex environment with a mix of risks and vulnerabilities.


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo (the), Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan (the), Uganda, South Sudan (Republic of)
    preview


    HIGHLIGHTS

    • Food insecure population in eastern Africa to decrease by over 1 million

    • Cholera, malaria and yellow fever outbreaks confirmed

    • Intercommunal clashes in Kenya claim over 477 lives since January 2012

    • Increased international presence facilitates aid delivery in secured areas of Somalia

    • Conflict has displaced over 5,000 Congolese into Uganda and South Sudan and 8,000 Sudanese into South Sudan


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    Source: International Criminal Court
    Country: Mali

    ICC-OTP-20130116-PR869

    ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda today formally opened an investigation into alleged crimes committed on the territory of Mali since January 2012. This decision is the result of the preliminary examination of the Situation in Mali that the Office had been conducting since July 2012.

    “Since the beginning of the armed conflict in January 2012, the people of Northern Mali have been living in profound turmoil” said Prosecutor Bensouda. “At each stage during the conflict, different armed groups have caused havoc and human suffering through a range of alleged acts of extreme violence. I have determined that some of these deeds of brutality and destruction may constitute war crimes as defined by the Rome Statute”

    Following the referral of the Situation in Mali by the Malian State, the Office may investigate and prosecute any crime within the ICC jurisdiction committed on the territory of Mali since January 2012. In the course of the preliminary examination, the Office has identified potential cases of sufficient gravity to warrant further action.

    Prosecutor Bensouda has determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe the following crimes were committed: (i) murder; (ii) mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (iii) intentionally directing attacks against protected objects; (iv) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court; (v) pillaging, and (vi) rape. “My Office will ensure a thorough and impartial investigation and will bring justice to Malian victims by investigating who are the most responsible for these alleged crimes”.

    Based on the information gathered to date, the investigation will focus on crimes committed in the three northern regions of Mali.

    “There is still turmoil in North Mali and populations there continue to be at risk of yet more violence and suffering” said Prosecutor Bensouda. “Justice can play its part in supporting the joint efforts of the ECOWAS, the AU and the entire international community to stop the violence and restore peace to the region. Key regional and international organizations have acknowledged the need for justice as part of the resolution of the crisis in Mali. The international crimes committed in Mali have deeply shocked the conscience of humanity.”

    Background

    Link to the Article 53.1 Report on the Situation in Mali

    Questions and Answers: Opening of an ICC investigation in Mali

    YouTube (for viewing): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skCM6DuO8Dc

    Video (MPEG-4) for download: http://www.fileserver.icc-cpi.info/video/130116_OTP_Statement_Mali_Engli...

    Audio (MPEG-3) for download: http://www.fileserver.icc-cpi.info/audio/130116_OTP_Statement_Mali_Engli...

    OTPNewsDesk@icc-cpi.int

    Source: Office of the Prosecutor


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    01/16/2013 16:54 GMT

    DAKAR, 16 jan 2013 (AFP) - Les groupes islamistes armés, contre lesquels le Mali mène la guerre avec l'appui de la France, utilisent des enfants soldats et "les populations comme boucliers" dans les zones qu'ils investissent, a affirmé mercredi à l'AFP un responsable de l'armée malienne joint depuis Dakar.

    Les islamistes armés "ont deux stratégies: les populations comme boucliers et des enfants soldats comme combattants", a déclaré ce responsable militaire sous couvert d'anonymat.

    Selon lui, c'est actuellement le cas à Diabali (400 km au nord de Bamako) ou, d'après des sources de sécuritaire, des combats "au corps à corps" opposaient mercredi soldats français des forces spéciales et combattants islamistes.

    A Diabali, les islamistes "sont en train de se servir des populations comme boucliers, c'est ce qui complique les choses pour nous. Et ils n'ont que des enfants soldats", a ajouté ce responsable, refusant d'en dire plus "parce que des opérations sont en cours en ce moment (mercredi après-midi) pour les en déloger".

    Diabali a été prise lundi par les islamistes, qui seraient dirigés par l'Algérien Abou Zeid, un des chefs d'Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (Aqmi).

    La localité a été bombardée à plusieurs reprises mardi par l'aviation française, mais les islamistes ne l'ont pas pour autant totalement quittée et, selon divers témoignages, ils cherchent à se fondre dans la population dont ils se servent comme bouclier.

    cs/stb/jms


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