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ReliefWeb - Updates

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    Source: Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development
    Country: Niger
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    En réponse à l’extrême situation d’insécurité alimentaire dans la région de Tillaberi (Niger), ACTED a mis en œuvre une distribution de coupons et des foires alimentaires pour aider les ménages les plus vulnerables à couvrir leur besoins alimentaires. Parallèlement, des sensibilisations ont été menées sur les bonnes pratiques alimentaires et nutritionnelles.

    Ce document présente le projet mis en place par ACTED pour ensuite en tirer les leçons apprises et recommandations.


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    Source: UN Radio
    Country: Mali

    Ecouter

    Les humanitaires onusiens ont annoncé ce mardi à Genève la reprise de la distribution de rations alimentaires dans le nord du Mali, où le Programme alimentaire mondial des Nations unies (PAM) avait cessé d’envoyer de l’aide depuis la reprise des combats en janvier. « Le PAM a repris ses distributions de nourriture et de compléments nutritionnels dans le nord du Mali », a déclaré une porte-parole de l’agence onusienne, Elisabeth Byrs, lors d’un point presse.

    Ces premières distributions marquent la reprise des activités du PAM au Nord-Mali depuis le début des opérations franco-maliennes le 10 janvier dernier.

    « Les 2 et 3 février, 7 bateaux chargés de 600 tonnes d’aide ont quitté le port de Mopti à destination du district de Niafounké dans la région de Tombouctou », a-t-elle ajouté, indiquant par ailleurs ne pas connaître la date de l’arrivée des navires à destination.

    Ces premières distributions de vivres au nord Mali vont permettre d’apporter une assistance alimentaire pour un mois à environ 35.000 personnes, dont 2.970 enfants de moins de 5 ans et 610 femmes enceintes et allaitantes.

    Les distributions vont être faites par le partenaire du PAM sur le terrain, l’ONG Care.

    Le PAM entend poursuivre ses opérations dans la région de Tombouctou et 1960 autres tonnes de vivres doivent partir dans les prochains jours à Goundam, Diré et le district de Tombouctou.

    (Extrait sonore : Elisabeth Byrs, porte-parole du PAM à Genève)


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger
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    Over 4.3 million people need humanitarian assistance in Mali. Improved access has enabled assessments in Mopti, Ségou, Gao and Kidal regions. These assessments reveal important new needs – especially among recent IDPs and their hosts – but generally do not indicate a major new crisis. Humanitarian assistance continues in the south and is resuming in the north where security permits.


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger
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    Faits saillants

    • L’accès humanitaire s’améliore relativement dans le centre, où l’assistance augmente. Dans le nord, l’accès reste limité mais plusieurs acteurs humanitaires utilisent le fleuve Niger pour envoyer leur assistance vers Tombouctou. Les informations sur la situation au nord restent insuffisantes.
    • Des incidents liés aux mines ou engins non explosés ont été rapportés. La route de Mopti à Gao est fermée au-delà de Douentza.
    • Les nouvelles arrivées de réfugiés sont en forte baisse. Au 4 février, 21.986 nouveaux réfugiés maliens sont arrivés au Burkina Faso, en Mauritanie et au Niger. Le nombre des déplacés internes dans les régions de Ségou, Mopti et Bamako est estimé à 14.242 au 31 janvier. En outre, environ 6.000 personnes sont bloquées à la frontière algérienne à Tin Zaoutin.
    • Les retours signalés sont limités et concernent des personnes récemment déplacées sur des distances réduites.
    • Les opérations militaires se poursuivent dans le nord. La MISMA commence à se déployer dans les villes du centre et à Gao en appui à l’armée malienne

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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger
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    Highlights

    • As access has improved somewhat, humanitarian assistance is increasing in central regions. In the north, aid remains more limited, but several partners are now using the Niger River to deliver assistance to Timbuktu region. Information on needs in the north remains insufficient.
    • Several incidents related to mines and explosive remnants of war have been reported. The Mopti-Gao road remains closed north of Douentza.
    • New daily refugee arrivals have fallen significantly since 25-27 January. As of 4 February, 21,986 new Malian refugees had arrived in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger. As of 31 January, new IDPs in Ségou, Mopti and Bamako regions were estimated at 14,242. In addition, some 6,000 people from the north are reportedly stranded at the Algerian border at Tin Zaoutin, with more arriving every day.
    • Returns indicated in some reports remain limited and refer to people recently displaced who did not travel far from home.
    • Military operations continue in the north. AFISMA has begun deploying to Gao and towns in central regions in support of the Malian army.

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    Source: UN Department of Public Information
    Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, South Sudan (Republic of)

    Watch the press conference

    In a Headquarters briefing today that focused on the role in 2013 of United Nations peacekeeping in Mali, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Head of the Department said there was a shared desire in the international community to do what needed to be done in Mali to end the conflict and resolve the issues that provoked it, and that a United Nations peacekeeping operation was “the way to go”.

    Addressing correspondents, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, said that his discussions with the Security Council indicated a common position to “see this operation under way in Mali”, where the deteriorating security, political and humanitarian situation in the overlapping Sahel subregion coalesced last March into the overthrow of the Malian Government and occupation of the country’s northern two thirds by rebel militias.

    The Council had spent much of 2012 considering an African-led mission to help reunify the country, proposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union, which it finally authorized on 20 December. Today, Mr. Ladsous said, those regional organizations and a number of United Nations Member States had voiced their support for a Untied Nations operation.

    It was clear, he said, that there had to be a peace to keep in Mali, which was a prerequisite for launching any United Nations operation. He could not speak for the Government, but underlined the need for a collective will to deal with such issues as countering terrorism, restoring security and the rule of law, and stabilizing that country, which only recently was held up as a model of democracy.

    On Syria, he said everything depended on how the political processes evolved because a peacekeeping operation might not be possible in light of the inordinate level of violence there. At the same time, “we have to do all we can to be prepared”, because the United Nations could be called on to help stabilize the country and support the political process, and give a greater sense of security to those who felt threatened. If a political process under Joint Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi materialized, then longer-term challenges would have to be faced.

    Regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he was hopeful that a framework agreement would be signed in the coming weeks. He had anticipated a positive outcome in Addis Ababa eight days ago, but a matter of process had delayed the signature. A framework agreement, he explained, would put together commitments by the Democratic Republic of the Congo itself to do what was necessary to reform the security sector and army, and reassert State authority in the eastern provinces.

    That cluster of commitments, he added, would be coupled with pledges by countries of the region to respect each other’s sovereignty and engage more deeply in regional cooperation to solve many of the outstanding issues underpinning the recurrent cycles of violence seen in that part of eastern Congo.

    Within that framework, he added, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) would be given a fresh look. An emerging concept was that of an international neutral force to deal with peace enforcement duties in the Kivus. Through extensive consultations with the countries and organizations of the region, the idea was now taking shape for the creation of an international brigade within MONUSCO. He briefed the Council on the matter yesterday.

    Clearly, enforcement action needed to be taken against those armed groups causing massive suffering of the population in the whole region, he said. MONUSCO was actively carrying out its tasks, including taking the necessary measures to face possible new military movements and to protect civilians, particularly displaced persons in the camps around Goma, as well as to advance the inquiry, and subsequent prosecutions, of the 126 rape cases that had allegedly occurred there.

    Much more progress was needed to implement the agreements made by Sudan and South Sudan last September, he said. Another summit 10 days ago had been disappointing. For those two countries to live “in good company”, much more needed to be done to address security, the Abyei issue, and the terrible situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, where large numbers of civilians had fallen victim to the ongoing fighting. Agreements made had not been implemented and that needed to be faced “very solidly and rapidly by the two countries”.

    Turning to what he called “horizontal subjects”, he noted the Security Council’s adoption two weeks ago of resolution 2086 (2013), which he said had been the first all-encompassing text on peacekeeping and peacebuilding in 11 years. It created a solid framework on which to push that partnership. In times of global financial austerity, he added, “we need to be good citizens, watchful, mindful of what is given to us”. His Department was working actively to improve performance and give Member States “good value” for their money.

    In that, he noted the deployment of unmanned vehicles for surveillance in the Kivus, which he felt would vastly improve awareness and promote deterrence to those who “move around with bad intentions” in that area. The concept of creating an inspector general for uniformed personnel was also gaining traction again, as a way to improve performance on the ground.

    Additionally, he said, innovative methods were being used in several African countries, including the creation of a common squadron of helicopters, and, whenever possible, inter-mission cooperation was being promoted to make the deployment of assets more nimble. In line with the Secretary-General’s directive, his Department was striving constantly to do more and better, whenever possible, with less.

    Responding to questions about African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) and the possible authorization of a United Nations operation in Mali, Mr. Ladsous said that some 2,000 soldiers were deployed there. Plus, the larger part of the 2,000-strong contingent from Chad now fell under that operation, as it moved into Bamako and areas in the north. The larger part of AFISMA, subject to Security Council decisions, would be considered for “re-hatting” under a peacekeeping operation.

    Was AFISMA slated to become a full-fledged United Nations peacekeeping force because hybrid forces did not work, as seen in Somalia and Darfur?, a correspondent asked. Mr. Ladsous said one difficulty had been the rapid pace of events and the time needed to train the Malian army, as well as train and equip the AFISMA troops. As events accelerated, the French intervened, which in turn hastened AFISMA’s deployment. However, the African Union and ECOWAS representatives had recently agreed in Brussels that the operation should now be a United Nations enterprise.

    He said that Somalia highlighted the imperative of sustainable support and resources, adding that a United Nations peacekeeping operation provided a solid framework and set resources, which made it much more predictable for the actors on the ground and the troop contributors. “All indications are that this is the way this is heading, and we are getting ready for that,” he declared.

    To a series of questions about the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said no one would say the deal fell apart — “no, no, no”. It should be clear that the mission would be within MONUSCO, but the brigade would have a specific mandate to prevent the expansion of armed groups and to neutralize and disarm them. The concept was taking shape, including among Council members. It was critical to move against the armed groups. In the end, the global aim was to have a political process that balanced commitments from the Congo and its regional partners. A renewed and strengthened MONUSCO would show “we are really trying to address all the root causes of instability for the Congo and for the whole region”.

    Regarding sexual exploitation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said MONUSCO had been key to establishing the due diligence policy and many mobile technology experiments carried out in eastern Congo were now being extended to other missions. Radio was also making it possible to send alerts to people in a particular area that an attack was about to happen. It had been observed that women were often attacked when carrying their wares to the local market, so they were now escorted. Also being addressed was the retribution often sought by the armed groups when United Nations troops returned to base. Protection of civilians, particularly women, was a key part of MONUSCO’s mandate, he added.

    Asked about the use of “drones”, he said that was not the right word, as that conjured up the wrong association. The unmanned vehicles were for surveillance purposes only and the information gathered would be fed first and foremost to force commanders. However, he was open to share it with regional bodies. The green light had been given by the Council for this experiment to be used by the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbours. Time would tell whether it was effective.

    To a question concerning verification by the United Nations of the Israeli strike on Syria, he said that the Force’s lack of equipment prevented that kind of verification. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was now in the limelight as a result of the Syrian situation. Several recent incidents were cause for concern about the safety of United Nations personnel, but monitoring the Golan was an essential part of the chessboard of the Middle East. Regarding the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), he said the near-daily airspace violations were not necessarily linked to the current events.

    As for what the United Nations had learned about containing disease, especially from its experience in Haiti, he said there had been many quick-impact projects to contain the cholera. The United Nations had spent $180 million on programmes to provide clean water, and there were also vaccination campaigns. He had visited Haiti last month to see the work being done by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Several processes should be sped up, he acknowledged, particularly the Senate and local elections. The Council had issued a presidential statement to that effect and he agreed it was essential to further the legislative process in order to proceed with the much needed reforms. The penal code, for example, had not been changed since 1835.

    For information media • not an official record


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    Source: European Commission
    Country: Mali

    Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, hosted today a ministerial meeting of the Support and Follow Up Group on the situation in Mali.

    The meeting was co-chaired by the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations. The Malian Delegation led by Minister for Foreign Affairs Tieman Coulibaly included Ministers for Territorial Administration Sinko Coulibaly and for Humanitarian Action Mamadou Sidibe.

    All members of the Group – including a significant number of Foreign Ministers – welcomed the advance of the Malian armed forces, supported by France and the region, against the terrorist groups in the north of Mali, and underlined the importance of the respect for international humanitarian law as well as the protection of civilian populations. They also commended the Malian transitional authorities on the adoption of the Road Map for the transition and they encouraged them to implement it faithfully and with resolve. A free and fair electoral process, the return to full constitutional order and a genuinely inclusive national dialogue are key to address the instability in Mali and restore security and development in the Sahel region across the board.

    Following the meeting, High Representative Catherine Ashton said: "The international community has recognised its responsibilities and reacted quickly to protect the Malian people. France has been in the frontline; the European Union and its member states, along with ECOWAS, the African Union and their members, are working together to provide support across the board."

    The Foreign Affairs Council of 31 January recognized that the adoption of the Road Map for the transition in Mali allows the gradual resumption of the European development aid. The EU has also speeded up the preparations for the EUTM Mali mission to provide training and advice for the Malian armed forces and it will provide financial (€50 million) and logistical support to the African-led International Support Mission in Mali.

    Audiovisual material available on TV Newsroom and Europe by Satellite

    For more information:

    Council conclusions on Mali – 31 January 2013

    FACTSHEET - EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali)

    Donor Conference on Mali: EU pledges € 50 million to support an African-led peace operation (AFISMA)

    EEAS provides a 'Clearing House' mechanism to support AFISMA mission in Mali

    Contacts :

    Sebastien Brabant (+32 2 298 64 33)

    Michael Mann (+32 2 299 97 80)


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    Source: UN News Service
    Country: Mali

    6 février 2013 – Le Secrétaire général adjoint aux opérations de maintien de la paix, Hervé Ladsous, a annoncé mercredi en conférence de presse qu'une opération de maintien de la paix des Nations Unies au Mali paraissait de plus en plus probable.

    « Tout semble indiquer que nous allons dans cette direction et nous nous tenons prêts pour cela », a déclaré M. Ladsous aux correspondants présents au Siège de l'ONU à New York.

    Il est ressorti de la réunion en date d'hier qui s'est tenue à Bruxelles entre l'ONU, l'Union africaine et la Communauté économique des États d'Afrique de l'Ouest (CEDEAO) un désir manifeste de la communauté internationale de faire tout ce qui peut l'être au Mali, a-t-il noté, faisant toutefois observer qu'il appartiendrait au Conseil de sécurité de prendre une décision dès que le gouvernement malien lui aura adressé une requête officielle.

    « Je pense que la logique des choses voudrait le moment venu que l'on donne la priorité au contingent de la CEDEAO déjà déployé dans le cadre de la Mission internationale de soutien au Mali sous conduite africaine déjà présente. Peut-être que d'autres pays se joindront à ce contingent. Nous verrons tout cela au fur et à mesure » a-t-il ajouté.

    « Il est évident que ces troupes ne seraient pas envoyées au Mali sans le consentement des autorités du pays », a ajouté M. Ladsous. « Comme vous le savez, toute opération de maintien de la paix requiert l'accord préalable du pays hôte. »

    Par ailleurs, si l'accès humanitaire s'améliore au Mali, la situation reste tendue, a expliqué de son côté le Coordonnateur régional des secours humanitaires pour le Sahel, qui a prévenu depuis Genève que près de dix millions de personnes pourraient souffrir de famine dans cette région en 2013.

    « La crise dans le nord du Mali vient s'ajouter à celle, plus large, qui sévit de manière chronique à travers tout le Sahel et expose à l'insécurité alimentaire des millions de personnes », a prévenu David Gressly lors d'une conférence de presse donnée à Genève.

    « Nous devons être préparés à ce que la situation s'aggrave. Il n'est pas certain que la situation s'aggravera. Mais nous devons nous préparer au pire », a-t-il précisé.

    La région du Sahel en Afrique de l'Ouest est formée du Mali, du Burkina Faso, du Tchad, de la Mauritanie, du Sénégal, de la Gambie, du Cameroun et du Nigéria. La communauté humanitaire a lancé un appel de plus de 1,6 milliard de dollars pour aider des millions de nécessiteux.

    Au Mali, environ un demi-million de personnes souffrent de l'insécurité alimentaire et plus de 43 millions de personnes ont besoin d'aide humanitaire après le début des combats en janvier 2012 entre les forces gouvernementales et les rebelles touaregs. Le conflit a déraciné des milliers de personnes et poussé le gouvernement à solliciter l'aide de la France pour mettre fin à l'avancée militaire des groupes extrémistes qui ont pris le contrôle du nord du pays l'an dernier.


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    Source: UN Radio
    Country: Malawi

    Listen to the interview

    The food and agriculture sector is essential to human nutrition, but food and agriculture interventions do not always contribute to positive nutritional outcomes.

    Specific attention is required to make agriculture "nutrition-sensitive". But what does this mean in practice?

    Solange Heise is a Nutrition Education consultant working for the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) project in Malawi to improve food security and nutrition in Kasungu and Mzimba districts.

    She tells FAO's Liliane Kambirigi that there is a very high level of malnutrition, especially stunting in these two regions.

    Duration: 4'54"


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    Source: Caritas Australia
    Country: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal

    Caritas Australia, the international aid and development organisation of the Catholic Church, has welcomed the government’s commitment of $10 million to help victims of the conflict in Mali, but said Australia now needed to use its influence in the UN Security Council to ensure vital food security in the land-locked West African country.

    West Africa has already been ravaged by a food crisis and the recent escalation in violence in Mali has further exacerbated the food security problem.

    It is estimated more than 350,000 people have been forced to flee fighting and human rights abuses in the occupied north, with 155,000 people seeking refuge in surrounding countries such as Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

    Caritas Australia and the international Caritas network are supporting and helping those affected by the violence in North Mali, who have fled to the capital Bamako and Segou, San Mopti and Koutiala. While the French and African troops in Mali have regained a lot of Northern Mali the return of many conflict affected people will still put stress on food, fuel and water shortages in the North.

    The Caritas network was one of the first non-governmental organisations to provide food aid to Mali. Caritas will continue to help in distributing almost 2,000 tonnes of food, as well as blankets, temporary shelter and medical supplies.

    Caritas CEO Jack de Groot said this region was already under significant stress due to the West Africa food crisis.

    “Many more Malians could face severe food shortages in the coming days and weeks if markets remain blocked by border and road closures,” Mr de Groot said.

    “We need to remain vigilant in helping the poorest of the poor in this region and Australia needs to use its influence to continue to deliver food aid and support to those affected by conflict in Mali, but also in neighbouring countries where many Malian refugees have fled and which have also been affected by drought in West Africa.”

    The president of Caritas Mali, Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako said a "new period of suffering has begun for the Malian people" and called for the creation of a humanitarian corridor to transport food and medicines to the affected populations.

    The Australian Ambassador to the UN has said the unfolding crisis in Mali is Australia’s first great test as a member of the UN Security Council.

    “This is a terrible tragedy that has affected many in Mali, and the people there desperately need access to humanitarian assistance,” Mr de Groot said.

    “We in Australia should use our influence to be a voice for the poorest of the poor.”

    In 2012 sporadic rains, poor harvests and insecurity put 18 million people at risk across Mali, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad, northern Nigeria and northern Cameroon.

    Supporters helped Caritas provide humanitarian aid during this critical time, reducing the impact of the crisis. Long-term funding, however, is still required to build the resilience of those living in drought and conflict affected areas.

    Media contact: Nicole Clements - 0408 869 833 or NicoleC@caritas.org.au


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    Source: Mercy Corps
    Country: Mali

    By Jeremy Konyndyk: Populations in northern Mali are facing severe food shortages since fighting has cut off vital humanitarian assistance and access to markets.

    Mercy Corps team members monitoring the situation in the Gao region report that food supplies are dwindling since the military offensive against rebel extremists began in January.

    Families are dependent on local markets that usually receive weekly deliveries, but most have completely shut down. Vendors in Gao and elsewhere have fled to protect their stocks from looting; commercial supply routes have been disrupted by the closure of the Algerian border and other military blockades; and most humanitarian agencies, including Mercy Corps, have been forced to suspend aid distributions for security reasons.

    Other food sources are not widely available and stocks from the rice harvest are rapidly running out, leaving the population to face a looming crisis. Urgent steps must be taken in the next days and weeks to restore crucial lifelines as quickly as possible.

    Latest in a year of struggle

    This is the latest escalation for families who have struggling with the Sahel’s severe drought and food crisis since the outset of 2012. Mali’s political instability over the past year further aggravated the dire conditions, disrupting not only agricultural production, but the entire economy.

    Other sources of income, including household labor and the tourist industry, have completely disappeared. Banks closures have made it impossible for families to receive remittances from abroad, and commercial activities have decreased significantly.

    Not able to earn enough money and afford higher food prices, many households had to sell or barter remaining assets, like animals, leaving them with no way to adequately meet their basic needs.

    Access must be restored to help families recover

    Mercy Corps began working in northern Mali last year, helping families secure desperately needed food from local vendors. Vouchers allowed them to buy what they needed most, built trust and cooperation among communities, and gave markets a boost despite the financial system breakdown.

    We’re also helping families replace and improve the health of their livestock, to ensure they have the means to support themselves in the long-term. These efforts are stalled, however, until access to the north is restored.

    Families who've already exhausted their safety nets are incredibly vulnerable to disruptions now, as they are just beginning to recover. In order to prevent a humanitarian emergency, French and Malian military forces must work to swiftly open and secure routes into northern Mali that allow crucial humanitarian and commercial traffic to reach those in need.


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    Source: World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal
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    Key points

    • The resumption of hostilities in northern Mali leads to an influx of displaced people in an ever more difficult context for affected populations

    • Prices of millet are still high in the Sahel despite a good harvest

    • Food insecurity still persists because of the 2011-2012 crises which resulted from natural disasters, high malnutrition rates and prices still high for the poorest Sahelian households

    • Locust invasions are decreasing


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Mali, Niger
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    Au sommaire

    • Les réfugiés du site de Banibangou relo- gés à Mangaizé
    • Aucun cas de choléra rapporté en janvier
    • Diffa: d’«énormes besoins » en WASH à satisfaire.

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    Source: US Institute of Peace
    Country: Mali, Syrian Arab Republic

    February 2013 | Olive Branch Post by Rachel Brandenburg

    France’s rapid intervention in Mali in early January is particularly striking when compared to the lengthy debate over international intervention in Syria, which has thus far produced only inaction. What considerations made French intervention in Mali feasible while constraining action in Syria?

    While both Mali and Syria have deep histories and carry complex implications for neighboring countries and regional stability, the two conflicts are of course very different.

    The path to military intervention in Mali was clearer, as was the execution of the campaign, despite the challenges of the ongoing fight and forthcoming stabilization and reconstruction efforts. France’s interest in Mali, the increased threat of terrorism and United Nations Security Council support for intervention, even if not initially for unilateral French action, eased the way, along with the low risk of a military campaign to regional and international powers.

    Mali is one of France’s closest allies in sub-Saharan Africa, a relationship borne of colonization in the late 1800s. There are reportedly more than 6,000 French citizens in Mali, a minority of whom are expatriates.

    Northern Mali hosts militant groups such as Ansar al-Dine, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), the “fastest-growing al Qaeda franchise in the world today,” according to Bruce Reidel, a Brookings Saban Center Senior Fellow. AQIM is the dominant power across a huge swath of northern Mali, an area the size of France. All the groups are excessively well-armed with weapons from Libya following the fall of Moammar Qaddafi. When Tuareg rebels began mounting major offensives a year ago against the Malian army in the country’s north, they soon gained the backing of extremist fighters flooding in from neighboring Libya.

    The U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 2085 on December 20, calling for a gradual and localized approach to resolving the conflict It authorized the deployment of an African-led mission to support government efforts to regain control over Northern Mali. The resolution tasked the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), in coordination with the European Union and international partners, to strengthen the Malian defense and security forces – but explicitly called for further planning before beginning a military operation. The resolution did not approve unilateral military action on the part of any member state, and it clearly articulated that assistance efforts be led by African forces. But in January, the fall of Konna – a strategic town in central Mali – and the warning from Mali’s government that the fall of Bamako and one of only two international airstrips were imminent – raised the prospect of a jihadist takeover in a country with direct ties to France and the accompanying easy access for potential attackers targeting Europe.

    The unanimous approval for the December resolution shows there was consensus on the need for international involvement and military support generally. Once the French intervened, the Security Council unanimously backed the action, agreeing that French troops should be joined by a force of the regional Economic Community of West African States as soon as possible. Russia and China are typically opponents of any external intervention, and have played a spoiler role on Syria, but even they did not object.

    That illustrates Mali’s relatively minor strategic importance with respect to the core interests of great powers compared with that of Syria. It also helped that the military effort required to push back the Malian rebels and maintain control was estimated to be far less than what would be needed to back the Syrian opposition’s campaign to depose Bashar al-Assad. U.S. officials have cited a lengthy list of risks in Syria, including a still-divided opposition, the threat of weapons falling into the hands of al-Qaeda-linked extremists and the strength of Assad’s army. Russia’s and China’s explicit resistance to international intervention in Syria also has stymied any Security Council resolution allowing military action there. President Obama has warned that use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime is a “red line” for the United States, although what response that would bring is not clear. There are seemingly few if any moves by the Syrian opposition or the regime that could trigger international action the way the jihadist advance on Bamako did for the French in Mali.

    Another noteworthy difference between the Mali and Syria scenarios is the legal status of the entities seeking assistance. Despite repeated calls for intervention in Syria , neither the Syrian National Council nor the newer Syrian National Coalition has been recognized as the “governing body” of Syria. Myriad international actors have recognized the coalition, formed with the November agreement for the council to join several other opposition groups as the “legitimate representative of the Syrian people,” but this affords the group no new legal standing. The Assad regime retains its status as the sovereign government of Syria, according to the U.N. Charter. A request for intervention by the coalition, therefore, does not hold the same legal weight or justification as a request by the sovereign government of Mali. At the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 24, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon appealed anew for Security Council members to support U.N. efforts to build a “meaningful political process to replace the military momentum,” and “overcome the deadlock, and find the unity that will make meaningful action [in Syria] possible.”

    At the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait on January 29, U.N.-Arab League Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi described Syria as “breaking up before everyone’s eyes,” and pleaded for the Security Council to “grapple with this problem now.” Donor pledges exceeded the U.N.’s $1.5 billion humanitarian aid request, even as relief needs continue to grow.

    Despite grave humanitarian concerns, the complexity and risks of the Syria conflict seem likely to continue muddying the path toward international intervention there, especially with international legal justification.

    What do you think these two cases tell us, if anything, about the conditions necessary for international intervention elsewhere, given the contemporary political and legal system? Tell us what you think by submitting a comment below.

    Rachel Brandenburg is a USIP Program Officer for Middle East Initiatives who formerly worked in the State Department’s Office of Middle East Transition.


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/07/2013 19:51 GMT

    by Serge Daniel

    GAO, Mali, Feb 07, 2013 (AFP) - Islamist rebels chased from their territory by French-led forces in northern Mali said Thursday they had opened a new front in the conflict with guerrilla attacks and landmines, one of which killed four civilians.

    The shift to guerrilla tactics by Al Qaeda-linked groups that occupied Mali's vast desert north for 10 months came as France, wary of a prolonged insurgency, looked to hand over its four-week-old intervention to UN peacekeepers.

    The deadly explosion Wednesday between the northern towns of Douentza and Gao occurred six days after a similar blast in the same area killed two Malian troops, underlining the danger the Islamist fighters still pose despite fleeing the towns under their control.

    An officer with Mali's paramilitary police said the mine was "placed by the Islamist criminals".

    An official with a local truck drivers' union confirmed the incident.

    The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), one of the Islamist groups fighting the French-led forces, said it had "created a new combat zone" by organising attacks on military convoys and placing landmines.

    "MUJAO is behind the explosion of two Malian army cars," the group's spokesman Abu Walid Sahraoui said in a text message to AFP.

    He called on Malians to stay away from main roads, which he said had been heavily mined.

    "We urge infinite jihad and a struggle against infidel regimes and the establishment of God's sharia and for Muslims to be freed," he added.

    Nearly a month after France sent in the first fighter jets and attack helicopters, its intervention has largely driven the rebels into the remote mountains of the far northeast, stopping their threatened advance on the capital, Bamako.

    But French-led forces continue to come under attack in reclaimed territory, including rocket fire directed at them Tuesday in Gao, the largest city in the north.

    Large numbers of French, Malian and Nigerien troops have been patrolling Gao, and French helicopters have been surveilling the road between Gao and Douentza, 400 kilometres (250 miles) to the southwest.

    In the northeastern region of Kidal, French warplanes continue to pound the area around the Adrar des Ifoghas massif, a craggy mountain landscape honeycombed with caves where the insurgents are believed to have fled with seven French hostages.

    "Air operations are ongoing. The strikes are essentially concentrated in the region north of Kidal and in the area of Tessalit" near the Algerian border, said army spokesman Thierry Burkhard.

    -- Three in four French support intervention --

    Paris is keen to hand over the military burden of an operation the defence ministry said has already cost France 70 million euros ($95 million), with the figure rising by 2.7 million euros per day.

    France now has 4,000 troops in Mali, as many as it had in Afghanistan at the peak of its deployment in 2010.

    After announcing plans to start withdrawing its soldiers in March, France called Wednesday for a United Nations peacekeeping force to take over.

    Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said a peacekeeping force could be in place by April, incorporating troops being deployed under the banner of a West African intervention force into a UN mission.

    The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is slowly deploying some 6,000 troops in Mali, joined by another 2,000 from Chad.

    The French defence minister said Tuesday the operation had so far killed "several hundred" Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

    France's sole fatality so far has been a helicopter pilot killed at the start of the operation. Mali said 11 of its troops were killed and 60 wounded in early fighting, but has not released a death toll since.

    An opinion poll released Thursday by survey firm IFOP found 73 percent of French support their country's intervention in the former colony, the highest level of support for an overseas military operation in 20 years.

    In Cairo, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation expressed support for efforts to help Mali "regain its territorial integrity", an apparent nod of approval for France's military intervention.

    The OIC summit also slammed the "despicable actions committed against civilians... and the destruction of cultural sites" -- a reference to the Islamist rebels' destruction of ancient Muslim saints' shrines in northern Mali, which they considered idolatrous.

    OIC members Egypt and Qatar had previously criticised France's intervention.

    burs-jhb/lc

    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Swiss Red Cross
    Country: Mali

    Dans le Mali en guerre, des villages entiers sont en fuite. Les populations déplacées survivent dans des conditions extrêmement précaires. La CRS, présente dans le pays depuis de nombreuses années, soutient le programme d’aide d’urgence de la Croix-Rouge malienne à hauteur de 600 000 francs.

    L’an passé, on estime que plus de 200 000 personnes avaient fui le nord du Mali pour trouver refuge au sud. Depuis début 2013 et le lancement de l’offensive militaire, des milliers de déplacés sont encore venus gonfler ce contingent. La plupart d’entre eux vivent chez des proches ou des amis, lesquels toutefois ne disposent que de ressources limitées et ont donc également besoin d’être soutenus. De plus, si une partie de ces personnes déplacées retournent actuellement chez elles, elles continuent d’y être dépendantes d’une aide extérieure.

    Depuis le début des combats en mars 2012, la Croix-Rouge malienne et le CICR ont fourni de la nourriture, des couvertures et des articles d’usage courant à un total de 780 000 personnes dans les régions de Mopti, Gao et Tombouctou.

    La Croix-Rouge suisse soutient depuis près d’un an la distribution de rations alimentaires, de couvertures et de moustiquaires à 3000 familles de Mopti. Après avoir dû être interrompue pendant quelques semaines pour des raisons de sécurité, cette aide a désormais pu reprendre. Assurée par des bénévoles de la Croix-Rouge malienne, elle représente pour la CRS un investissement de 350 000 CHF.

    La Croix-Rouge suisse souhaite en outre étendre son aide aux déplacés d’autres régions du pays et a débloqué dans cette optique un montant de 250 000 CHF. Deux collaborateurs ont été chargés de déterminer les besoins sur place, en étroite collaboration avec la Croix-Rouge locale.


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/07/2013 18:44 GMT

    Par Serge DANIEL et Marc BASTIAN

    GAO (Mali), 07 fév 2013 (AFP) - Les islamistes armés qui ont abandonné presque sans combats le nord du Mali face à l'offensive des soldats français et maliens, ont affirmé jeudi avoir ouvert un nouveau front, en posant des mines qui ont tué quatre civils maliens mercredi dans une explosion entre Douentza et Gao.

    "Nous avons réussi à créer une nouvelle zone de conflit, à organiser des attaques de convois et organiser des kamikazes", a déclaré dans un communiqué adressé à l'AFP le porte-parole du Mouvement pour l'unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (Mujao), Abu Walid Sahraoui.

    "Nous appelons les citoyens à ne pas se déplacer sur les routes nationales parce qu'il y a danger de champs de mines", a-t-il souligné, tout en "exhortant au jihad (guerre sainte) contre les régimes infidèles, pour établir la charia (loi islamique) et libérer les musulmans".

    Le Mujao, l'un des groupes islamistes armés qui ont contrôlé le Nord du Mali pendant plus de neuf mois, multipliant les exactions, a ainsi revendiqué deux récentes explosions de mines qui ont frappé des véhicules de civils et de soldats maliens.

    Mercredi, un véhicule "a sauté sur une mine posée par les criminels islamistes entre Douentza et Gao. Il y a eu quatre morts", a déclaré à l'AFP un officier de la gendarmerie de Douentza, à 800 km au nord-est de Bamako.

    Dans un premier temps, cet officier avait affirmé que les quatre victimes étaient des soldats maliens. "C'étaient des civils qui revenaient d'une foire, sur un marché hebdomadaire dans la région", a ensuite précisé le responsable de la gendarmerie. Cette dernière information a été confirmée par un membre du syndicat local des transporteurs.

    Les militaires français ont fait part à plusieurs reprises de leur vigilance à l'égard d'éventuelles mines ou bombes artisanales, que les islamistes auraient pu dissimuler avant de prendre la fuite.

    En particulier, le trajet entre Douentza et Gao (environ 400 km) est dangereux en raison des mines qui y ont été dissimulées. Le 31 janvier, deux soldats maliens avaient déjà été tués dans une explosion, sur la même route.

    Douentza avait été reprise le 21 janvier par les soldats français et maliens et Gao, la plus grande ville du Nord du Mali, le 26 janvier, aux groupes islamistes armés qui l'ont occupé pendant des mois, multipliant les exactions.

    Casques bleus

    Plus au nord, Kidal et sa région, en particulier le massif des Ifoghas situé près de la frontière algérienne, l'aviation française a mené ces derniers jours de nombreux raids contre des positions et dépôts d'armements des groupes islamistes qui y sont retranchés.

    "Les opérations aériennes se poursuivent. L'effort de ces frappes se situe essentiellement dans la région nord de Kidal et dans la région de Tessalit", à la frontière avec l'Algérie, a indiqué le porte-parole de l'armée française, le colonel Thierry Burkhard.

    Kidal même, qui est tenue par des rebelles touareg et des islamistes s'affirmant "modérés" et prêts "au dialogue" avec Bamako, est "sécurisée" par quelque 1.800 soldats tchadiens. Les troupes françaises contrôlent l'aéroport.

    Sur le plan diplomatique, la France pense déjà à son retrait progressif de ce pays et elle a demandé à l'ONU de préparer l'envoi d'une force de maintien de la paix, "sous casque bleu lorsque les conditions sécuritaires le permettront", a déclaré mercredi l'ambassadeur français Gérard Araud à l'ONU.

    "Il n'y a eu aucune objection" au sein du Conseil de sécurité, selon lui, mais il a reconnu qu'il faudrait "plusieurs semaines pour prendre une décision" et une nouvelle résolution du Conseil.

    Selon le patron des opérations de maintien de la paix de l'ONU, Hervé Ladsous, la future force de l'ONU "sera d'abord basée sur l'existant, c'est-à-dire les unités de la Communauté économique des Etats d'Afrique de l'Ouest (Cédéao) et du Tchad".

    Les forces de la Cédéao forment la Misma (Mission internationale de soutien au Mali), autorisée par une résolution du Conseil de sécurité en décembre.

    La Misma doit à terme envoyer quelque 6.000 hommes, mais leur déploiement est lent, seuls environ 2.000 se trouvant actuellement au Mali, soit un peu plus que ceux du Tchad, qui a promis 2.000 hommes: environ 1.800 se trouvent déjà à Kidal, à 1.500 km au nord-est de Bamako.

    Le président français François Hollande a indiqué que la France envisageait de commencer à retirer ses soldats en mars, "si tout se passe comme prévu".

    Son chef de la diplomatie Laurent Fabius a précisé de son coté mercredi que la France oeuvrait pour une mise en place d'une opération de l'ONU en avril.

    Au Caire, les pays islamiques ont annoncé jeudi leur soutien aux "efforts en cours pour le recouvrement par le Mali de son intégrité territoire", en référence implicite à l'intervention militaire de la France dans ce pays, à l'issue du 12e sommet de l'Organisation de la coopération islamique (OCI).

    Près de trois Français sur quatre (73%) sont favorables à l'intervention militaire au Mali, quatre semaines après son lancement, un taux d'adhésion inégalé depuis vingt ans pour une opération extérieure française, selon un sondage de l'institut Ifop à paraître vendredi.

    bur-stb/thm/sba

    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Télécoms Sans Frontières
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger

    In Mali, the 14 satellite lines of Télécoms Sans Frontières allowed to establish 550 connections for the benefit of 4,200 beneficiaries, for whom it is often the first call they make for several months. The mobile network has been restored but functions only partially.

    Thanks to Télécoms Sans Frontières, people can make international calls (United States, Senegal, Ivory Coast, France, Liberia…) to tell their loved ones they are safe and sound. The Mayor of Timbuktu testifies: "The army delivered us, Télécoms Sans Frontières reconnected us! I was able to call Bamako and directly inform the authorities about the situation here in Timbuktu."

    The TSF experts also installed an Internet satellite connection at the town hall for the benefit of the NGOs, the crisis unit, the hospital staff and the local authorities.

    The TSF satellite equipment reinforces the capacities of humanitarian workers in the region of Timbuktu enabling them to share vital information to manage the very critical humanitarian situation in this area.

    The communication is very disturbed in northern Mali, where land lines and mobile network have been cut off in several towns, and the activities of the NGOs in this region are very limited because of the degradation in safety conditions.

    TSF is helping refugees from Timbuktu and Gao for 10 months thanks to its satellite telecom equipment.

    In the Sahel region, the security conditions have significantly deteriorated in March 2012 with the massive arrival in Mali neighboring countries of refugees fleeing the fighting between the Tuareg rebels and the regular army. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees there are more than 144 400 refugees in the neighbouring countries.

    According to WFP, since last August, humanitarian support is the main means of survival for most of the Sahel people. In order to reinforce the assistance to vulnerable populations, TSF is providing reliable and rapid satellite communications for a better coordination of the organisations in the field.

    Given the extremely complex security context in the Sahel region, TSF is using both fixed and mobile satellite equipment to connect its humanitarian Hubs and the teams during their trips.

    • Abala refugee camp, 400 km from Gao:

    On 24th April 2012, TSF installed a Vsat satellite antenna in the coordination offices of ACTED and UNHCR within the Abala camp which is now hosting more than 14,300 refugees. The humanitarian hub offers a secured Wifi connection to the 30 humanitarian workers who come daily to connect: MSF Switzerland, MSF France, CARE International, Islamic Relief, CADEV, HELP, VSF Belgium, ACTED and UNHCR…

    The 94Mb exchanged from the TSF humanitarian hub allow a more efficient daily management of the information and a coordinated response of all the actors in the area.

    • Gorom-Gorom refugee camp, 200km from Gao:

    The installation by TSF of the Vsat satellite connection on 11th July 2012 within the offices of Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium (VSF-B) in Gorom-Gorom, north-eastern Burkina Faso, enabled the NGOs and United Nations agencies working in the area to exchange 41Mb of data.

    The connection is benefitting to VSF-B, A2N, UNHCR, Red Cross, Save the Children, HELP, AEC, TASSATH, Afrique Verte and AGED. The DPASSN and the Discrict Direction of Health also regularly use the humanitarian hub.

    Before the intervention of TSF, the organisations in the area were forced to cover every week the 57 km separating Gorom-Gorom from Dori, the departmental capital, to find a good Internet access. Since then, the TSF connection supports the implementation of emergency activities which notably increased since May 2012, and facilitates the communication between the field and the central services at national and international levels.

    • Djibo refugee camp, 330km from Timbuktu:

    On 19th July, the TSF satellite connection in the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is reinforcing the actions of all the NGOs in the area (Oxfam…) with refugees in the camps north of Djibo, where more than 15,000 people are living. 59 Mb of data have been exchanged.

    In the region of Gorom-Gorom, few kilometers from the Mali border, the mobile network is operational but the Internet access is only possible through Edge network or 3G keys, thus the connection is very slow and not reliable at all.

    The precarious security conditions are making emergency humanitarian intervention even more difficult and jeopardizing vulnerable populations’ survival. TSF satellite communications allow a better coordination of field teams and thus reinforce their actions with Sahel people.


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    Source: UN Radio
    Country: Mali

    Listen

    The deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission for Mali is in the works.

    The country is facing a political crisis following a military coup in March last year and the occupation of the northern part of the country by armed rebels.

    This has in turn created a humanitarian crisis with hundreds of thousands of people displaced and others becoming refugees in neighbouring countries.

    Derrick Mbatha reports.

    Duration: 3’58″


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/07/2013 22:08 GMT

    UNITED NATIONS, Feb 7, 2013 (AFP) - UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he is worried by a guerrilla fightback in Mali and that no firm decision has been made to send a peacekeeping force there.

    While praising France's month-old military intervention in the west African country, Ban said it would take weeks for the UN Security Council to decide the international community's next move.

    "I think these military operations so far have been effective and successful. All these jihadis and armed groups and terrorist elements -- seemingly they have fled," Ban told a small group of reporters including AFP.

    "Our concern is that they may come back. As you have seen yesterday they are hitting back in some areas."

    Al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels driven into remote mountains and deserts have switched to guerrilla tactics in territory they have lost to the Malian army and French forces. One landmine attack Wednesday killed four civilians.

    "Our concern is that this may affect regional countries," Ban added.

    "We don't know where they are hiding. They must be holed up themselves, hunkered down somewhere. Then, when the time comes, they may slowly come back. That is our concern."

    Ban said the "effective, strong military operation" led by France will have "given them a big shock politically, psychologically, that the international community will never tolerate such terrorists."

    France has called on the UN Security Council to start preparations to hand over to a UN peacekeeping force. But Ban indicated he was still cautious.

    UN officials have highlighted that Mali's interim government has yet to accept a UN force.

    "The (UN) secretariat has not made any decision," he told the reporters. "The situation is still fluid. We will have to see."

    "We will continue to discuss and analyze the situation on the ground," Ban said, adding it would take "some weeks" for the Security Council to reach a decision on whether it was safe enough for a UN force to move in.

    "It will take a few weeks because the French themselves are saying they still need to assess the situation on the ground to make that decision that it is time to transfer to some other body," he added.

    Ban said he supported a decision by Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore to call elections by July 31 as part of a roadmap to rebuild the government.

    He said a UN political mission in Bamako would be increased to help the government. "I hope this election will take place with security ensured," he said.

    tw/sst

    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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