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ReliefWeb - Updates

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    Source: Guardian
    Country: Mali

    Malians have welcomed France's decision to commit forces but there are fears conflict could spread in fragile Sahel region

    Read the full report on the Guardian.


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    Source: Action Contre la Faim
    Country: Mali

    Les équipes d'Action contre la Faim (ACF) reprennent actuellement leurs activités dans la ville de Gao à la faveur d'une stabilisation du contexte. Dans la région de Gao et notamment dans les cercles d'Ansongo (vers la frontière nigérienne) et de Bourem, ces activités continuent. Avec plus de 15% des enfants de moins de 5 ans souffrant de malnutrition aigue dans la région de Gao (soit près de 20 000 enfants), il est fondamental pour ACF de rétablir au plus vite un accès plein et entier au traitement de la malnutrition pour les populations vulnérables.

    Nos vidéos à diffuser librement par la presse sur ce sujet

    Les équipes d'ACF dans la région de Gao sont par ailleurs en train d'évaluer la possibilité de reprendre également leurs activités nutritionnelles mobiles dans les zones rurales.

    Par ailleurs, les autres bases d'activités d'ACF dans la région de Koulikouro, de Bamako et de Kayes continuent de fonctionner à travers des programmes de support au Ministère de la santé malien pour la détection et la prise en charge de la malnutrition, ainsi que des programmes d'amélioration de l'accès à l'eau, à l'assainissement et à l'hygiène et d'amélioration de la sécurité alimentaire et à des moyens d'existence durable pour les populations vulnérables.

    Avec 64% de la population vivant au-dessous du seuil de pauvreté et un indice de développement classant le Mali à la 175ème place sur 182, les problèmes de pauvreté au Mali sont profonds et de nature structurelle. Ces difficultés ont commencé bien avant la crise actuelle et ont été renforcé ces derniers mois par les effets conjugués de la crise alimentaire qui a traversé tout le Sahel en 2012 et par la crise politique que connaît le Mali depuis plusieurs mois. A l'échelle nationale et en temps « normal », 10.4% des enfants souffrent de malnutrition aigüe ;un chiffre au-dessus des seuils critiques. La malnutrition est la deuxième cause de mortalité des enfants de moins de cinq ans dans le pays.

    Forte inquiétude sur une pénurie alimentaire, monétaire et d'accès à l'eau dans le Nord Si pour ACF la priorité est aujourd'hui le rétablissement d'un accès aux soins et notamment au traitement de la malnutrition pour les populations souffrant de cette pathologie, nos équipes sont également extrêmement inquiètes des perturbations, voire de la fermeture des voies commerciales permettant l'approvisionnement en denrées alimentaires des zones du Nord Mali. Avec la fermeture de la frontière algérienne et les combats sur l'axe Bamako-Gao, les commerçants et transporteurs auront sans doute de plus grandes difficultés à passer. Ainsi, la ville de Gao est le plus souvent approvisionnée en nourriture à partir de l'Algérie.

    La destruction des stocks de carburant de la ville est également une forte contrainte pour rétablir la circulation des marchandises et assurer le fonctionnement de la compagnie Energie du Mali, chargée d'assurer l'approvisionnement en eau de la population de Gao ville. Les populations de Gao auraient commencé à effectuer des réserves d'eau.

    De même, depuis la fermeture de toutes les banques depuis plusieurs mois à Gao, l'argent circulait et était réapprovisionné à partir de transporteurs particuliers convoyant l'argent entre Bamako et Gao. Avec les difficultés de circulation actuelle, c'est toute la ville de Gao qui aujourd'hui commence à faire face à un manque de disponibilité d'argent.

    Des petits commerces ont commencé à rouvrir dans Gao-ville à partir des stocks qu'ils avaient avant le début de l'intervention militaire. Mais ce manque de disponibilité monétaire et alimentaire risque d'aggraver rapidement la situation des populations civiles vivant à Gao.

    Avant la crise, ce sont près de 600 000 personnes qui vivaient dans cette région. Il est aujourd'hui impossible de savoir avec certitude combien ils sont.

    Face à ce risque de crise alimentaire, les équipes d'ACF ont commencé à mener des évaluations rapides auprès des commerçants et de la population ; et étudient les moyens d'y faire face dans les meilleurs délais et au vu du contexte très volatile.« Le risque de pénurie alimentaire est aujourd'hui sur toutes les lèvres à Gao. Les habitants sont extrêmement inquiets » explique Franck Vannetelle, Chef de mission d'ACF-Mali.

    Contacts presse :

    Christina Lionnet 01.43.35.82.37 clionnet@actioncontrelafaim.org

    Julia Belusa 01.43.35.82.22 jbelusa@actioncontrelafaim.org Urgences et jours fériés : 06 70 01 58 43

    Action contre la Faim (ACF) est une Organisation Non Gouvernementale internationale de lutte contre la faim dans le monde. Privée, apolitique, non-confessionnelle et non-lucrative, Action contre la Faim agit dans le monde entier tout en respectant et défendant ses principes : indépendance, neutralité, non-discrimination, accès libre et direct aux victimes, professionnalisme et transparence. La mission d'ACF est de sauver des vies en éliminant la faim par la prévention, la détection et le traitement de la malnutrition, en particulier pendant et après les situations d'urgence liées aux conflits ou aux catastrophes naturelles.

    ACF intervient depuis 1996 au Mali et aujourd'hui dans 4 zones : celle de Gao, de Kita (région des Kayes), du Banamba (Koulikouro) et de Bamako (commune VI) à travers des programmes de prise en charge de la malnutrition, de soutiens aux pratiques de soins, de réponse en urgence aux crises alimentaires et d'amélioration de la sécurité alimentaire des familles les plus vulnérables.220 000 personnes ont bénéficié des programmes d'ACF au Mali en 2011.
    Pour en savoir plus : http://www.actioncontrelafaim.org/fr/content/mali


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    Source: European Union
    Country: Mali

    3217ème session du Conseil AFFAIRES ETRAGERES

    Bruxelles, 17 janvier 2013

    1. L'UE condamne les actions conduites par des groupes terroristes à l'encontre des forces armées maliennes, menaçant l'intégrité territoriale du pays et la sécurité de la population du pays. Dans ces circonstances et en cohérence avec les Résolutions pertinentes du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies (CSNU), en particulier les Résolutions 2071 et 2085, l'UE soutient les efforts de la région et de la communauté internationale. Elle salue la réponse rapide de la France, soutenue par d'autres Etats membres de l'UE, à la demande d'assistance militaire contre les groupes terroristes exprimée par le Président du Mali.

    2. L'UE soutient le déploiement rapide de la Mission Internationale de Soutien au Mali sous conduite africaine (MISMA) conformément à la Résolution 2085 du CSNU et réitère son engagement à fournir rapidement une aide financière à cette Mission, en particulier à travers la mobilisation de la Facilité Africaine de Paix. Le Conseil invite la Haute Représentante/Viceprésidente (HR/VP) à faire avancer les préparatifs en vue d'un appui financier et logistique, en étroite relation avec l'Union africaine (UA) et la CEDEAO, afin de soumettre des propositions opérationnelles au Conseil en urgence. Le Conseil appelle à la tenue dans les meilleurs délais d'une conférence de donateurs pour appuyer sur le plan logistique et financier le déploiement de la MISMA comme demandé par la Résolution 2085 du CSNU. Il invite la HR/VP à définir les modalités de la participation de l'UE à cette conférence.

    3. Le Conseil prend la décision d'établir la Mission de formation de l'Union européenne (EUTM Mali) chargée de fournir une formation militaire et du conseil aux forces armées maliennes dans le cadre des Résolutions 2071 et 2085 et en réponse à la requête directe des autorités maliennes à l'UE. Il prend également la décision de nommer le Général François Lecointre comme Commandant de la Mission. Il invite ce dernier à accélérer la planification et les préparatifs qui permettront de lancer EUTM Mali au plus tard à la mi-février et à cette fin, d'envoyer une première équipe technique dans les prochains jours à Bamako.

    4. Des progrès politiques sont cruciaux pour assurer la stabilité du Mali sur le long terme. A cet égard, l'UE engage instamment les autorités maliennes à adopter et mettre en œuvre le plus rapidement possible une feuille de route visant à rétablir la démocratie et l'ordre constitutionnel au Mali. Elle encourage un dialogue national inclusif ouvert aux populations du nord et à tous les groupes rejetant le terrorisme et reconnaissant l'intégrité territoriale du pays. Dans ce contexte, le Conseil souligne sa volonté de reprendre graduellement sa coopération au développement et invite la Commission européenne à préparer les décisions pertinentes pour permettre le déboursement rapide des fonds développement dès que les conditions seront réunies. Il invite également la HR/VP à explorer les possibilités d'assistance rapide à travers l'instrument de stabilité.

    5. L'UE réitère l'importance qu'elle accorde à la coordination étroite avec les efforts maliens et les autres partenaires régionaux et internationaux, notamment dans le cadre du Groupe de Soutien et de Suivi mis en place par l'UA. Le Conseil salue également l'intention de la Haute Représentante de tenir prochainement une réunion de ce groupe. Il salue également la tenue de la réunion de la CEDEAO à Abidjan le 19 janvier ainsi que le sommet de l'UA le 25-26 janvier.

    6. L'UE se tient prête à renforcer sans délai son soutien aux efforts des organisations humanitaires pour aider les populations du Mali et des pays voisins dans le besoin. Elle souligne l'importance d'une coordination efficace entre acteurs humanitaires sous les auspices des Nations Unies, et elle réitère son appel à toutes les parties engagées de permettre un accès humanitaire sans contrainte aux populations dans le besoin ainsi que de garantir la sécurité des travailleurs humanitaires.

    7. L'UE appelle toutes les parties à garantir la protection des populations civiles et à respecter le Droit International Humanitaire ainsi que les droits de l'homme. Toutes les parties et individus engagés au Mali seront tenus pour responsables de leurs actes.

    8. L'UE souligne l'importance de maintenir la stabilité au Sahel et de prévenir un impact négatif sur les pays voisins. Dans ce contexte, elle réitère son engagement à soutenir les pays voisins du Mali dans le contexte de sa Stratégie au Sahel afin de renforcer leur sécurité et leur développement. Le Conseil demande à la Haute Représentante de présenter immédiatement une décision du Conseil pour la nomination rapide d'un Représentant Spécial de l'UE pour le Sahel."


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    Source: European Union
    Country: Mali

    Bruxelles, le 17 janvier 2013

    5428/13 (OR. en)
    PRESSE 15

    Le Conseil a instauré ce jour une mission relevant de la politique de sécurité et de défense commune qui vise à appuyer la formation et la réorganisation des forces armées maliennes.
    Cette décision crée le cadre juridique de cette opération et constitue une étape supplémentaire en vue de son déploiement.

    La mission de formation de l'UE au Mali (EUTM Mali) a pour objectif de contribuer à améliorer les capacités militaires des forces armées maliennes afin de permettre, sous autorité civile, le rétablissement de l'intégrité territoriale du pays. Elle fait partie intégrante de l'approche globale adoptée par l'UE face à la situation au Mali et au Sahel.

    La mission EUTM Mali assurera une formation militaire; elle formera également les forces armées maliennes et leur fournira des conseils en matière de commandement et de contrôle, de logistique et de ressources humaines, ainsi que dans les domaines du droit humanitaire international, de la protection des civils et des droits de l'homme. La mission ne participera pas aux opérations de combat.

    Le Conseil a également nommé le général de brigade français François Lecointre au poste de commandant de la mission de l'UE. Il a en outre estimé à 12,3 millions d'euros le montant des coûts communs de l'opération pour la durée de son mandat, qui est de quinze mois. L'état-major de la mission sera installé à Bamako et la formation se déroulera dans un lieu affecté à cet effet au nord-est de la ville.

    Le lancement des opérations nécessitera l'adoption d'un acte juridique distinct.


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    Source: Government of Ethiopia
    Country: Ethiopia

    Maichew January 17/2013 Some 19 safe water facilities are being constructed in six localities of Raya Alamata Woreda , Southern Tigray Zone with over 2.7 million Birr, the Woreda water, mines and energy office said. Office Head, Mehari Gebrehawaria said that the government allocated the budget for construction of the facilities. He said the public in the area are contributing labour support for the same purpose. The facilities include, among others, digging of 14 water wells, development of four springs and installation of 3km water pipe lines. Upon going fully operational after three months, the facilities will benefit more than 28,000 households. The facilities are being constructed in areas, which have no access to safe water service.


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    Source: European Union
    Country: Mali

    EU training mission in Mali established

    Summary: 17 January 2013, Brussels - The Council of the European Union today established a Common Security and Defence Policy mission to support the training and reorganisation of the Malian Armed Forces. This decision creates the legal basis for the operation and is another step towards its deployment.

    The EU training mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) is intended to help improve the military capacity of the Malian Armed Forces in order to allow, under civilian authority, the restoration of the country's territorial integrity. It represents an integral part of the EU's comprehensive approach to the situation in Mali and the Sahel.

    EUTM Mali will provide military training as well as train and advise the Malian Armed Forces on command and control, logistics, 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 Council also appointed Brigadier General François Lecointre from France as EU mission commander. Besides, it estimated the common costs of the operation at EUR 12.3 million for the mandate of 15 months. The headquarters will be in Bamako while training is to take place in a dedicated location north-east of Bamako.

    The launch of operations will require a separate legal act.


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Chad, Sudan (the)

    LES TITRES

    • Tchad : bonnes perspectives en matière de santé pour 2013 (Xinhua, 14 jan. 2013)

    • In Chad, anatomy of a vaccination campaign (UNICEF, 14 Jan. 2013)

    • Tchad/BAD: 2 milliards F CFA pour promouvoir la bonne gouvernance et la transparence des finances publiques (Xinhua, 14 jan. 2013)

    • Will there be a global food crisis in 2013? (IRIN, 16 Jan. 2013)

    • Mass displacement following North Darfur tribal clashes (UNAMID, 17 Jan. 2013)

    • Les premiers soldats tchadiens ont quitté N'Djamena pour le Mali (AFP, 17 jan. 2013)


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali, Tunisia

    01/17/2013 19:21 GMT

    TUNIS, 17 jan 2013 (AFP) - La Tunisie s'est inquiétée des répercussions du conflit armé au Mali sur sa propre sécurité et celle de la région et a condamné la prise d'otages en Algérie, dans un texte publié à l'issue d'une réunion de ses dirigeants politiques et militaires jeudi.

    Une déclaration finale de la réunion tenue à l'initiative du président Moncef Marzouki souligne "les graves répercussions sécuritaires de la crise du Mali sur l'ensemble des pays de la région et sur la Tunisie".

    Le texte appelle les Tunisiens à "prendre leurs responsabilités dans la lutte contre la violence et le terrorisme", leur demandant notamment des efforts pour "isoler les groupes violents".

    "La situation exige une grande vigilance sécuritaire", a noté le ministre des Affaires étrangères Rafik Abdessalem qui a lu le texte à la presse, expliquant le renforcement des mesures de sécurité en Tunisie.

    Les autorités tunisiennes ont affirmé en outre leur "soutien à la sécurité du Mali" et condamné la menace que constituent les "groupes terroristes armés".

    Tunis dit "comprendre la décision souveraine du gouvernement malien pour faire face aux risques sécuritaires", en appelant à un "dialogue national global parallèlement à l'action militaire".

    Exhortant les pays du Sahel africain et d'Afrique du Nord "à unifier leurs efforts et leurs politiques sécuritaires", les autorités tunisiennes ont estimé que les pays du Maghreb étaient "les plus exposés aux conséquences" du conflit malien.

    La Tunisie a en outre "condamné fermement" la prise d'otages par un commando jihadiste en Algérie et s'est dit "entièrement solidaire" avec Alger face à "une agression de groupes terroristes armés".

    L'armée algérienne a donné l'assaut jeudi contre un site gazier dans le désert du Sahara où des centaines de personnes étaient retenues.

    La réunion a regroupé le chef du gouvernement l'islamiste Hamadi Jebali, le président de l'assemblée constituante Mustapha Ben Jaafar, le chef d'état-major le général Rachid Ammar ainsi que les ministres des Affaire étrangères, de l'Intérieur et de la Défense.

    Elle a coïncidé avec le renforcement du dispositif sécuritaire notamment autour de l'ambassade et des services français en Tunisie, l'ambassade ayant appelé mercredi les Français "à la vigilance" en raison de l'intervention contre des combattants islamistes au Mali.

    Bsh/kl/sw

    © 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: World Vision
    Country: Mali

    Protection for child combatants fighting for rebel groups must be at the heart of any training given by EU troops to Malian forces, says World Vision UK.

    Earlier today the EU announced a training mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) which is intended to help improve the military capacity of the Malian Armed Forces.

    “Children are particularly vulnerable to recruitment into Militia groups as well as various forms of sexual violence, including forced marriage. They are therefore in urgent need of protection” said Chance Briggs, director of World Vision Mali

    Earlier this week the United Nations warned of serious human rights violations in Mali including summary executions, rapes, acts of torture and the recruitment of child soldiers by rebel groups.

    Justin Byworth, Chief Executive of World Vision UK, said: “We are calling on the UK government to take the lead and ensure child protection is built in alongside combat training. This is especially important when child combatants are captured. They must be dealt with according to International humanitarian law. It's important to work with Malian troops and the Malian legal system to ensure that all grave violations of the rights of civilians, especially those of children, are identified, prevented and stopped.”

    All rebel groups in Mali have recruited child combatants according to the UN. The exact number of child soldiers is unclear but children as young as 10 have been seen manning checkpoints. Children have also been seen conducting joint patrols in the name of "Islamic police ". While some children are given by their parents for religious reasons, the majority are attracted by promises of payment up to 350,000 CFA ($697US). Rebel groups are said to have also actively recruited children in religious schools. The UN report also stated fears that many children are trapped in these schools without adult protection because many teachers have fled, leaving their pupils at risk of recruitment and kidnap.

    EUTM Mali will provide military training as well as train and advise the Malian Armed Forces on command and control, logistics, human resources as well as on international humanitarian law, the protection of civilians and human rights. Responding to the In response to the announcement World Vision's EU Representative Marius Wanders said: “The EU MUST be seen to observe its commitments to child protection in line with the 2008 EU Guidelines and relevant Checklist on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts. We also welcome today’s announcement on appointing an EU Special Representative for Mali. We request that the door is left open for proper dialogue between the EU Special Representative and civil society groups and NGOs operating on the ground in Mali. We sincerely hope the EU Special Representative will listen to our concerns and incorporate them. We know grave violations have taken place already. Mechanisms must now be put in place to prevent them.”

    UN investigators uncovered shocking amounts of alleged sexual violence, committed by all armed groups controlling the north. Medical sources reported that women often did not seek medical treatment after being raped, due to the fear of stigma.

    Investigators also found evidence of rape as a tool of intimidation and torture. Women and girls as young as 12 had been subject to punitive acts of rape for non-compliance to the rebels orders, such as wearing a veil or ignoring a ban on women riding bikes/motorbikes.

    Investigators spoke to one woman who had been raped by a rebel commander for two hours for failing to wear conservative dress. Some groups had forced families to ‘monetize’ (sell) their their daughters into marriage. Girls as young as 12 were "married" to several men in rebel camps where they were gang-raped all night and then abandoned after a quick ‘divorce’. The UN also collected multiple allegations of sexual violence against women and girls who had been detained in prison.

    NOTE TO EDITORS

    Chance Briggs, Director of World Vision Mali and Justin Byworth, Chief Executive of World Vision UK are available for immediate interview. Contact 07889 631613 Marius Wanders World Vision EU Representative is based in Brussels and also available for interview. Contact: +32 (0)2-274.18.62 (Direct dial) +32 (0)478-58.54.01 (Mobile)


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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Mauritania
    preview


    Local rice and sorghum are the most consumed food products by poor households in Mauritania followed by imported wheat which is a substitute that these households turn to the most. Local rice is grown in the river valley (in the southern regions of Trarza, Brakna, Gorgol and Guidimakha). Sorghum is produced in all areas of production (rainfed) and in flood-recession areas. However, a significant portion is imported from Mali and Senegal. Mauritania depends greatly on food imports (70% in a good agricultural year and 85% in a bad year) than on internal production.
    Nouakchott is the principal collection market for imported products and also the distribution market where traders acquire supplies for the secondary markets referenced below. Cooking oil is consumed mainly in urban areas. The sale of animals is a lifestyle in all areas and an important source of income and food.


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    Source: UN Radio
    Country: Mali

    Écouter

    Septième jour d'opérations militaires au Mali ce jeudi 17 janvier 2013. L'armée française a lancé une offensive terrestre contre les groupes islamistes, des combats ont opposé les militaires aux combattants jihadistes dans la région de Diabaly sur le front Est. Sur le front Ouest, la nuit dernière, un accrochage a eu lieu dans la zone de Konna entre l'armée malienne et des rebelles.

    Cette intervention militaire saluée par les populations maliennes a des conséquences dangereuses, qu’il s’agisse des morts, des destructions, des déplacements de population.

    S'exprimant au micro de la Radio des Nations Unies depuis Bamako, Ismaïl Mayga, Chargé d'information à l'Unicef rapporte que les jihadistes se fondent dans la population dans les zones qu'ils ont abandonnées.

    De nombreuses populations ont été déplacées par les combats dans le nord parmi lesquelles plusieurs femmes et enfants. L'Unicef concentre son appui à ces populations vulnérables à Bamako et dans les régions accessibles aux humanitaires : Interview

    (Entretien : Ismaïl Mayga, Chargé d'information à l'Unicef ; propos recueillis par Maha Fayek)


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

    Oxfam is providing humanitarian assistance in the region of Gao, northern Mali and in refugee camps in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. We provide support to people who need basic food, clean water and healthcare.

    Conflict in the north of Mali, the entrenchment of armed groups and the spread of instability has led to increased humanitarian suffering across the region.

    The human impact is evident: 30,000 people are reported to have been displaced by recent combat, adding to the 345,000 Malians who have been displaced already over the last year. Across the region, vulnerable communities are struggling to host them.

    In Burkina Faso, we aim to reach over 290,000 people, including some 77,000 refugees, with water and public health work, food, cash for work activities, animal health and food programs for pastoralist communities, and assistance to refugees from Mali.

    View Pictures


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    Source: Deutsche Welthungerhilfe e. V. (German Agro Action)
    Country: Mali

    (16.01.2013) Welthungerhilfe is responding to the escalating humanitarian situation of the people in Mali. Continued fighting in the North of this African country has prompted Welthungerhilfe to send out additional helpers. In addition, it is also providing EUR 100,000 of immediate aid.

    "We must react now! The situation of the people in Mali is getting worse by the day. The conditions in which families are forced to live at the moment are catastrophic. We also expect an increase in refugee movements over the next few weeks", says Mathias Mogge, Welthungerhilfe's Executive Director Programmes.

    Welthungerhilfe has been supporting projects in Mali since 1968. Together with the local population, the organisation has supported projects in the area of sustainable food security, education and agricultural development. Welthungerhilfe has also continued to provide active emergency aid due to recurring political unrest and extreme climatic fluctuations.

    Many of the 14 million people in Mali are already suffering from chronic undernourishment. The population must also deal with the effects of the 2012 drought in the Sahel. Welthungerhilfe stands on the side of the needy particularly in difficult times such as these.

    The organisation relies on donations to carry out its work:


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    Source: US Institute of Peace
    Country: Mali

    Olive Branch Post by Tobias Koepf and Jon Temin

    France’s military intervention in Mali will fundamentally alter the dynamics of the Malian crisis and the role of the international community in seeking a solution. While that might sound like stating the obvious, it’s important to emphasize the dramatic effect of this military action on the potential for long-term peace and stability.

    The international community had planned to take a two-track approach – political dialogue between the government and the rebel groups, and support for the Malian army to ultimately retake the northern part of the country that has been held by Islamist and rebel groups since April 2012. This strategy is now obsolete. Worryingly, the increased focus on military operations is likely to distract from the need for a political solution.

    The French intervention on Jan. 11 was a surprise to many because, until last week, France repeatedly declared that there will be no French boots on the ground in Mali. Still, the action is supported by most of the international community. The decision to intervene was a direct reaction to the capture of the city of Konna by three Islamist groups (AQIM, Ansar Dine and MUJWA) and an official request by the Malian government for French assistance.

    Konna is strategically important because it is located on the border between the government-controlled southern part of Mali and the Islamist-held northern part of the country. The Malian government and France feared the Islamists could use their capture of Konna for a further push southward, perhaps even toward the capital, Bamako.

    France already has gone beyond an “emergency operation” to prevent a further move south by the Islamist groups. It extended its air strikes to northern Mali, including the key cities of Kidal and Gao. French and Malian forces also launched an initial ground operation in the city of Diabaly, which is only 220 miles north of Bamako and was taken by the Islamists after the intervention had started.

    United Nations Resolution

    These actions overrode the sequence envisioned by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2085, adopted on Dec. 20, 2012. The resolution included support for a political dialogue between the Malian authorities, Ansar Dine (the only of the Islamist rebel groups considered to be a potential partner in negotiations) and the Tuareg rebel group MNLA. The talks were to be mediated by the West African regional organization ECOWAS.

    The resolution also endorsed a two-step plan to support the Malian army -- training Malian soldiers and then providing logistical and financial support for an intervention to restore government control of the north. Training was to be undertaken by an African-led force (dubbed AFISMA) and the European Union (including France). Any intervention in the north was supposed to be limited to AFISMA, though with yet undefined western logistical and financial support (but no boots on the ground). On Jan. 14, the U.N. Security Council decided to stick with this framework despite the French intervention.

    Instead, any training of Mali’s army will have to take place simultaneously with the combined French-Malian military operation against the Islamists.

    France, which plans to increase the number of its troops in Mali to 2,500, has already attracted wide political and logistical support for the operation. The United Kingdom, Germany and other EU member states have promised to provide air transportation. The United States also has received a request from France to help with air transport and refueling, as well as drone and satellite surveillance, but has yet to decide what it will provide.

    Whether an international organization will be involved (as was, for example, the case with NATO in Libya) remains to be seen. NATO officials so far deny that they received a request from Paris for the alliance to get involved, and the EU has ruled out serving as a platform for combat operations. A notable development is that Algeria, which was hostile to an external intervention in Mali before France intervened, now supports the action. Algeria isn’t contributing directly to the French operation, but has decided to secure its borders with northern Mali.

    In order to garner greater legitimacy and comply with U.N. Resolution 2085, France is eager to get support from the proposed African-led force as soon as possible. Several African states have been quick to offer troops (among them Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Togo and Chad, the latter the only non-ECOWAS member state) and the West African regional organization ECOWAS is trying to accelerate its efforts to speed up the deployment, which was originally scheduled for September 2013.

    But when the African force will be established remains unclear, and the details of its mandate are uncertain (will it be tasked with only supporting and training the Malian army, or will it directly conduct combat operations in the north?).

    Whatever the role of any African forces, it is unlikely that France will remove its troops any time soon. What is plausible is a scenario comparable to that in Côte d’Ivoire between 2002 and 2004, when France maintained troops in the country alongside an ECOWAS intervention force, but under a separate command.

    Political Dialogue

    A political dialogue between the various parties, especially between the Bamako government and marginalized groups in the north, remains essential to long-term peace. Both the MNLA and Ansar Dine had recently engaged in tentative negotiations in Burkina Faso. The goal of holding elections in April 2013 will almost certainly be scuttled. The elections were originally scheduled for April 2012 but postponed due to the crisis. This doesn't change the fact that elections will remain an essential step to determine a legitimate Malian government.

    A side effect of the French intervention may be to diminish the influence of Captain Sanogo and his supporters, who deepened Mali’s turmoil by staging a military coup in March 2012. Sanogo maintains considerable power and has repeatedly acted as a spoiler to the political peace process.

    In December 2012, he demonstrated his influence by forcing then-Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra to resign. Part of Sanogo’s justification was that Diarra lobbied for an external intervention, which Sanogo fundamentally opposed. But since France launched its air strikes on Friday, Sanogo has radically changed course and now openly supports the intervention.

    Whether Sanogo will maintain this position and have a more positive effect on the peace process remains to be seen. There are also voices who think that his power might actually increase because he is de facto chief of the military and thus benefits from any military aid that is delivered.

    While France’s intervention may be a positive, stabilizing development in the short-to-medium term, it does little to change the reality that Mali is engulfed in a deep political crisis. Ultimately, it is up to Malians to find a way out of that crisis – as past experience in the region and elsewhere shows, international assistance can only do so much.

    Do you think there's a way to keep a political process going through this period of the French military operation? If so, what's the best approach?

    Tobias Koepf is a Transatlantic Post-Doctoral Fellow for International Relations and Security (TAPIR) at USIP, conducting a research project on French security policy in Africa. Jon Temin is USIP’s director of Sudan and South Sudan Programs and recently hosted a panel discussion on Mali.


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    Source: Action Against Hunger
    Country: Mali

    By James Phelan

    An escalating conflict displaces 380,000 people and threatens wider consequences across the country

    The growing conflict in northern Mali has caused widespread insecurity, displacement, and disruptions, including the suspension of vital humanitarian efforts across the region of Gao as Action Against Hunger is forced to place existing programs on hold, warning that the latest clashes were undermining already vulnerable communities across the region.

    “This new phase in the conflict is only adding to the population’s fragility. But we fear the worst is yet to come in the Spring, when these communities will be between harvests, having exhausted their food reserves. For now, we have been forced to suspend our projects in the region of Gao, as was the hospital where we were treating malnourished children.”

    –Vincent Stehli, Director of Operations, Action Against Hunger

    Despite suspending programs in the region of Gao, Action Against Hunger continues to administer humanitarian programs across the regions of Kita, Koulikoro and Bamako, even as the violence affects the rest of the country, forcing some 150,000 people across Mali’s borders and another 230,000 into neighboring regions.

    “While media attention and the international community are focused on the conflict in central and northern Mali, the impact has been dramatic on the rest of the country as well, where communities were already isolated and living in extremely precarious conditions. As the conflict disrupts transportation routes, regions across Mali are facing threats to their food supplies.”

    –Franck Vanetelle, Country Director, Action Against Hunger – Mali

    Action Against Hunger will continue to monitor the flow of refugees and displaced families in the coming weeks, tracking populations as they cross into Mauritania or flee central Mali for adjacent regions. The agency calls on all parties to grant humanitarians free and direct access to vulnerable populations caught up in the conflict.


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    Source: International Medical Corps
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger (the)

    Sonia Lowman
    Communications Officer
    slowman@InternationalMedicalCorps.org
    +1 310.826.7800

    LOS ANGELES, CA, January 17, 2013 – International Medical Corps is sending an emergency response team to Mali and Mauritania to assess humanitarian needs resulting from intensifying conflict between armed rebels and the government in Mali. Widespread displacement, high levels of hunger and worsening humanitarian conditions are anticipated.

    On January 10, armed Islamist groups controlling northern Mali began moving south and took over the city of Konna, triggering intervention by the French army. Hundreds of French soldiers poured into Mali as the French army carried out airstrikes to take back control of Konna. Meantime, ground combat appears imminent, with both the French and Malian armies encircling the village of Diabaly—seized by Islamist fighters three days ago—which is located about 250 miles from Mali’s capital, Bamako.

    Rebel groups in northern Mali have staged uprisings against the government since the early 1990s. Last March, President Amadou Toumani Toure was ousted in a coup, effectively splitting the country in two, with well-armed Islamists controlling the three northern regions of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.

    Violence in 2012 caused more than 460,000 people to flee their homes, many of them fleeing across the border into Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso. The United Nations estimates that more than 8,700 people have been newly displaced since January 10, adding to the estimated 228,920 already displaced, and thousands more could flee as result of international military intervention. Approximately 1,440 new Malian refugees have arrived in neighboring countries since January 10; eighty percent of those arriving in Mauritania have been women and children.

    Sanitation, shelter, health and food security conditions have deteriorated significantly over the past nine months, creating a humanitarian situation that will likely worsen as intensified violence displaces additional civilians. According to UNICEF, 4.6 million Malians already experience severe hunger, with 175,000 children at risk of severe malnutrition. The majority of humanitarian needs are in the south, where 3 million people face a hunger crisis, and where health services and schools have been overwhelmed by the influx of northerners. Meanwhile, most schools are closed in the north, where children remain at risk of recruitment by rebels, violence, sexual abuse and exploitation.

    International Medical Corps is closely monitoring the situation in Mali as well as in neighboring countries and coordinating with humanitarian partners to assess conditions on the ground.

    Since its inception nearly 30 years ago, International Medical Corps' mission has been consistent: relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster and disease, by delivering vital health care services that focus on training. This approach of helping people help themselves is critical to returning devastated populations to self-reliance. For more information visit: www.InternationalMedicalCorps.org. Also see us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


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    Source: IRIN
    Country: Malawi

    BLANTYRE, 17 January 2013 (IRIN) - Several months of heavy rains in Malawi are threatening to undo any gains that farmers in the south may have made following a prolonged dry spell.

    At least 9,000 households have been affected by flooding since October 2012, according to Gift Mafuleka, deputy director for the Department of Disaster Management Affairs. The flooding has so far resulted in three deaths and significant damage to property and crops.

    Mafuleka told IRIN that her department is carrying out an assessment to determine more accurately the extent of flood-related damage and the needs of those affected.

    Displacement and damage

    The hardest-hit areas are Phalombe, Mangochi, and Nsanje districts, all in the south of the country and in the same region that, only months ago, had been suffering from too little rain. The resulting poor harvests had left nearly 2 million people without enough food to get them through the lean season, according to an October 2012 assessment by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC).

    Now, as heavy rains continue, farmers and officials fear the floodwaters will damage crops and worsen hunger.

    In Phalombe, thousands of people have been displaced by flooding, and many have evacuated to makeshift shelters in schools and churches. One school alone is sheltering 1,400 people, according to Davi Chibani, assistant district risk management officer, who is on the ground coordinating rescue and relief efforts. Other temporary camps are sheltering hundreds each.

    Chibani says that if the rains do not subside soon, severe crop damage and another year of poor harvests is likely.

    Anderson Vishalona, a village headman from Chikwawa District, said that floodwaters had already had a severe impact on crops in his area. Farmers who recently applied fertilizer to their maize crops are complaining that the rain waters have washed it off.

    Mafuleka is urging farmers to not apply fertilizers until the heavy rains have subsided and, in the longer term, to opt for crops other than maize that are more resilient. Southern Malawi is prone to seasonal flooding and drought.

    Floods could worsen

    In Namasalima, a low-lying area of Zomba District, huge tracts of maize fields have been washed away by the floodwaters. Lyness Kasani, 83, is one of about 600 residents in the area whose houses and crops have been damaged. She recalled waking up in the middle of the night to find rainwater cascading down her bedroom wall. “The floor was flooded with water, and I had to use an umbrella throughout the night as my roof gave up and rain poured inside the house,” she told IRIN.

    In Nsanje, a low-lying area that also experienced heavy flooding in early 2012, resident Gilbert Kaunda described how he saved a young boy about to be swept away by floodwaters. “He held on to branches, crying, as the waters lifted him up and down till I managed to reach and pull him to safety,” he told IRIN. “Had I not been there, he would surely have been swept away by the water.”

    Nsanje District Commissioner Rodney Simwaka says displaced people in the area are in dire need of food, blankets and tents.

    With the rains forecast to continue over most of Malawi for the next 10 days, flood conditions could worsen.

    mc/ks/rz


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

    BRUSSELS/NEW YORK, January 17, 2013—As bombings and combat continue in multiple locations in Mali, the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) calls on all parties to the conflict to authorize humanitarian organizations to enter the area of Konna and to allow aid to be provided in all areas affected by fighting.

    MSF has been in contact with Mali’s civilian and military authorities since January 14, as well as with the French army and government, in an effort to obtain authorization to send medical teams to Konna. To date, access roads to this town in central Mali remain closed by the Malian army.

    “Despite our repeated requests, the authorities continue to refuse to grant us access to the area of Konna,” said Malik Allaouna, MSF operations director. "It is critical that neutral, impartial medical and humanitarian aid be allowed into the areas affected by fighting. We call on all parties to the conflict to respect both the civilian populations and the work of humanitarian organizations.”

    MSF is currently trying to send a medical team to the area to assess the needs and to deliver medical and humanitarian assistance.

    “MSF has been working in Mali for several months now, both in areas controlled by the army and in areas controlled by the various armed groups in the north of the country,” Allaouna said. “But since the Malian and French forces began their offensive, we have not been able to cross the front lines despite our neutrality. Entire regions are now cut off from outside aid.”

    MSF is, however, still working in the regions of Mopti, Timbuktu and Gao. Patients have again started visiting an MSF referral health center in Douentza, a town in the Mopti region that was previously inaccessible due to armed conflict.

    MSF’s teams in Mali currently comprise approximately 450 Malian and 50 international staff. MSF is also working in the southern part of the country, providing nutritional programs in the Koutiala region, and is providing care to Malian refugees in the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger.


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    Source: REACH
    Country: Somalia
    preview


    1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    1.1 CONTEXT

    Somalia is facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today. Since the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991, Somalia fell for a long time into protracted civil wars, with ruling militia dividing populations along clan lines. The political landscape of Somalia has been one highly fragmented between dominant clans, dozens of armed movements, the increasing presence of warlords and a rising radical Islamic movement. Intrastate conflicts between rival clans, between Somalia and breakaway Republic Somaliland, followed by increasing factions with the self-declared semi-autonomous region of Puntland, have defined the country’s divisions in recent years. Interstate conflicts with Kenya and Ethiopia have also caused mass causalities, population displacement and insecurity in Somalia over the past two decades.

    Over the years, ongoing conflict and climatic shocks in Somalia have generated the third highest number of refugees in the world, after Iraq and Afghanistan. As of 9 th August 2012, 1,011,204 Somali refugees were counted in the region, most of whom being hosted in Kenya, Yemen, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Tanzania and Uganda. Moreover, in 2012 almost 1.5 million Somalis are internally displaced, mainly in the south-central region. New internally displaced persons (IDPs) mix with displaced populations from 15 years previous and a population of urbanized poor following 20 years of conflict. Usually, Somali IDPs do not plan to return to their place of origin due to conflict and poor livelihood opportunities. They stay settled in and around main cities, living in makeshifts shelters that mainly not offer basic security and dignity requirements. In the longer-term, they become urban poor increasing the demand for improved shelter solutions.

    The displacement of people as a result of protracted conflict coupled with insecurity and recurrent critical climatic shocks in Somalia results in a continued need for the humanitarian community to support the distribution of NFIs, the provision of shelters and camps management. Subsequently, shelter remains a major humanitarian issue and priority concern within Somalia in general; as hundreds of thousands of IDPs abide, often for years in makeshift shelters using available materials which are inadequate for shelter such as canvas or plastic sheeting in areas without adequate access to basic humanitarian services.

    The purpose of REACH deployment in Somalia and this assessment was to inform humanitarian decision-making and coordination in relation to shelter. Household level surveys were undertaken to verify and provide additional detail (particularly in terms of technical assessments) to information that had been collected through various government agencies and international organizations.


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    Source: US Agency for International Development
    Country: Nigeria

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 ABUJA, Nigeria – In a ceremony at the Central Bank of Nigeria on January 17, 2013, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah, Nigerian Central Bank Governor Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, represented by Honorable Minister Dr. Akinwumi Adesinathe, launched a partnership in which the parties expect to leverage up to $100 million in commercial lending for the country’s agriculture sector.

    The partnership, cemented through a Memorandum of Understanding signed today, will engage financial institutions, provide technical assistance, explore new financial products and establish a staff exchange program to encourage the growth of the agriculture sector in Nigeria.

    “Most importantly, it is not a partnership for partnerships’ sake,” said Administrator Shah at the ceremony in Abuja. “These are true market linkages that will drive growth, deliver profits, and expand opportunities for poorer and marginalized communities around the country.”

    Since 1999, USAID’s Development Credit Authority has mobilized nearly $3 billion in private financing through local lenders in 70 countries —helping first-time borrows access vital credit. In Nigeria, USAID has partnered with six Nigerian banks to provide up to $34 million in guaranteed financing for health, agriculture, energy, and housing.

    Partnership organizations: USAID is a U.S. Government agency that provides economic, development, and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA) works with investors, local financial institutions, and development organizations to design and deliver investment alternatives that unlock financing for entrepreneurs in the developing world.

    The Central Bank of Nigeria-founded Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) provides risk mitigation, financing, trading, and other strategic assistance to agribusinesses in Nigeria and has a capital base of $500 million. The Nigerian Government established NIRSAL to spur additional financing for agriculture lending, based on its experience with various credit guarantee programs, including USAID’s Development Credit Authority. NIRSAL is currently a project office within CBN’s Development Finance Department, but it planned to become a standalone legal entity in the future.

    The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has developed an Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) that builds directly on President Goodluck Jonathon’s (economic) transformation agenda, as agriculture is an important sector of the economy through its employment, food security, foreign exchange earning/saving and poverty reduction potentials. The ATA is expected to increase the income of Nigerian farmers and food security by making an additional 20 million metric tons of key food staples available on the local market.


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