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

    Au sommaire

    • CAP Niger: 345 millions de dollars requis pour 2013
    • WASH: UNICEF renforcera l’assistance à Diffa
    • Relèvement: nouveau programme d’aide aux retournés de la Libye

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    Source: Terre des hommes
    Country: Mali

    Worried by the situation of the people living close to the war areas, and also to support the governmental organizations in their response to the emergency, Tdh has opened an operational base in Segou, 200 km to the north of Bamako. Tdh’s priority is to bring aid to the health centres in this region, the worst hit by malnutrition. Tdh has undertaken to improve the conditions of access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in these centres and the neighbouring villages, all of which have seen the influx of thousands of displaced persons from the towns in the north, fleeing from the armed conflict. Particular attention is being paid to the children who have been separated from their parents or become victims of the violence.

    In a country already suffering from the food crisis that hit the whole Sahel region in 2012, the present situation in the north and centre only worsens the living conditions of people living in close proximity to the zones of conflict. The instability of State structures makes access to basic services (healthcare, water, shelter, education) even more precarious. In Burkina Faso and in Mauritania, where Terre des hommes has been working for decades, its teams help Mali refugees in the camps. Terre des hommes believes that an escalation of the war in the north will provoke the exodus of additional families seeking food or medical treatment, as well as all the dangers connected with violence, especially against women and young girls.

    Two crises: dramatic consequences

    In Mali, and particularly in the Segou area, agriculture plays a crucial role. This way of life, when threatened by drought, weakens families and children. Living in one of the fifteen most poverty-stricken countries in the world, communities cannot really relate to any other source of revenue and food. Even prior to the terrible drought of 2011-2012, food insecurity and malnutrition were already chronic in the country.

    In rural areas, populations without resources lose their access to basic services: drinking water, schooling, health care, farming materials, credit and employment. In Segou, over 90,000 children work, sometimes from the tender age of 5, in agriculture, fishing or livestock farming. The young girls are often obliged to migrate to the large towns to seek domestic work. Some of them there become victims of abuse or early pregnancy. If they go back home, these girls are generally rejected by their families, either sent away or placed in other families.

    For over a year this situation has been deteriorating due to the armed conflict in the north of the country. According to a statement made by the United Nations, more than 230,000 people are displaced in the south of Mali and neighbouring countries, either moving in with extended families or becoming separated in the camps around the towns (source: OCHA). In Segou, on the major trunk route to Bamako in the north, the influx of displaced people is especially significant. Owing to a lack of security caused by the conflict, transportation of foodstuffs is carried out less frequently, services function at half-speed and the opportunities for work are reduced. The children are also at a greater risk of abuse and the consequences of a poor diet. Some of them are separated from their families and find themselves in the south without homes to go to.

    Watching over healthcare and child protection

    Terre des hommes intervenes in two health districts in the Segou area (Macina and Markala). It is working to improve the capacity of the existing public services by offering healthcare and protection in the communities. For the health services, Tdh improves the quality and accessibility to medical treatment, principally for children with severe malnutrition who are exposed to the danger of serious retardation in their physical development, or even life-threatening risks. Tdh also supports the region’s health centres by taking care of children, responding to infectious and parasitic diseases, nutritional deficiencies, vaccination, and by improving the infrastructure in matters of sanitation and hygiene. Training courses given to the staff of the health centres and to community health workers further the identification of and care for the children suffering from malnutrition.

    In the coming months, these same health workers will also be given training in how and when to refer young victims of violence, abuse, exploitation and negligence to Tdh’s protection agents and to State social service workers who will be supported with training and material means. These social workers will thus be able to follow-up the situation of such children and come to the aid of the poorest families. The children will get the help appropriate to their needs, whether health, school or psychosocial. The most poverty-stricken families will benefit from socio-economic support by which they will be able to restart economic activity and so meet the needs of their children. The youngsters suffering from the most serious problems will be referred to a network of professionals who will give them social, medical, educational or even legal aid.

    With this project, Terre des hommes has undertaken to care for 8,000 children under 5 suffering from malnutrition, to improve the capabilities of the nursing staff in 31 health centres, to improve access to drinking water for 40,000 people and to set up a system for child protection in the two districts of Macina and Markala, in order to safeguard 500 children who have become the victims of violence, abuse, exploitation and negligence.

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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/21/2013 22:31 GMT

    Par Anne LE COZ à Gao et Serge DANIEL à Bamako

    GAO (Mali), 21 fév 2013 (AFP) - La phase de "sécurisation" du nord-est du Mali, où sont retranchés des islamistes armés liés à Al-Qaïda, paraissait jeudi loin d'être terminée, comme en témoignent l'explosion d'un véhicule près d'un camp militaire français et tchadien à Kidal et des combats à Gao.

    A Kidal, à 1.500 km au nord-est de Bamako, un "véhicule est arrivé en filant vers le sud-ouest" de la ville et "a explosé à environ 500 mètres du camp occupé par les Français et les Tchadiens. Deux civils ont été blessés, ils sont à l'hôpital", a déclaré à l'AFP un élu de Kidal, information confirmée de source sécuritaire malienne à Bamako.

    Selon un fonctionnaire de Kidal, l'explosion a eu lieu "à moins d'un kilomètre du camp occupé par les Tchadiens et les Français". "Le chauffeur du véhicule a été tué sur le coup", a déclaré l'élu.

    Il s'agissait d'un "attentat" planifié par le Mouvement pour l'unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (Mujao), a affirmé jeudi soir à l'AFP ce groupe islamiste armé qui a occupé pendant plus de neuf mois de grandes villes du Nord malien, dont Gao (au sud de Kidal et à 1.200 km de Bamako).

    "Nous sommes arrivés à rentrer sans aucun problème à l'intérieur de Kidal même pour faire exploser comme prévu un véhicule. (...) D'autres explosions auront lieu sur tout notre territoire", a dit sans plus de détails le porte-parole du Mujao, Abu Walid Sahraoui.

    Les forces françaises avaient repris fin janvier le contrôle de l'aéroport de Kidal, ancien bastion islamiste, et quelque 1.800 soldats tchadiens sont arrivés depuis pour sécuriser la ville, où étaient déjà présents des islamistes se disant "modérés" et des hommes se réclamant du Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad (MNLA, rébellion touareg).

    A Paris, l'état-major de l'armée française, interrogé jeudi sur une éventuelle collaboration au Mali avec le MNLA, a déclaré "se coordonner" effectivement avec "les groupes qui ont les mêmes objectifs" que les Français.

    Au nord de Kidal se trouve le massif des Ifoghas, où sont retranchés des combattants islamistes puissamment armés, que les soldats français traquent depuis plusieurs semaines, par des opérations aériennes et terrestres.

    Un soldat français a été tué mardi lors d'un violent accrochage dans les Ifoghas, au cours duquel une vingtaine d'islamistes ont également trouvé la mort. Une cérémonie en son honneur s'est tenue jeudi à l'aéroport de Bamako avant le rapatriement de sa dépouille, a constaté un photographe de l'AFP.

    Aller "jusqu'au bout"

    A Gao, des combats, entamés dans la nuit de mercredi à jeudi à la périphérie de la ville entre des islamistes armés et des soldats nigériens, se sont poursuivis jeudi en centre-ville avec des soldats maliens, appuyés par l'armée française qui a fait notamment intervenir deux hélicoptères Gazelle, selon une source militaire.

    Les combats avec les Nigériens qui ont eu lieu aux entrées nord et sud de la ville, selon une source militaire malienne qui a parlé "d'une quarantaine d'islamistes" venus de villages proches de Gao.

    Dans le centre-ville, les combats ont pris fin dans l'après-midi. Ils ont eu lieu près de la mairie et du palais de justice où se trouvaient retranchés des islamistes en armes, selon une source militaire française qui a précisé qu'un homme portant une ceinture d'explosifs avait été maîtrisé.

    "Le bilan provisoire (jeudi) à 16h00 (locales et GMT) est de quatre morts au niveau du palais de justice et de deux jihadistes capturés. (...) Côté amis, nous avons enregistré cinq blessés", a déclaré sur la télévision publique malienne ORTM le capitaine Modibo Naman Traoré, un des responsables de la communication de l'armée malienne.

    En visite à Bruxelles, le ministre français de la Défense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, a de son côté indiqué que des jihadistes ayant brièvement occupé deux bâtiments officiels à Gao avaient été délogés par des soldas maliens et français. Cinq islamistes armés ont été tués dans les combats, selon lui.

    Le Mujao a affirmé à l'AFP avoir envoyé des hommes dans cette ville, sans en préciser le nombre, en assurant que "la bataille" ne faisait que commencer pour reconquérir le vaste Nord malien, en majorité désertique, incluant la mythique cité de Tombouctou (nord-ouest).

    Gao a été reprise au Mujao le 26 janvier par les soldats français et maliens. Les 8 et 9 février, elle a été le théâtre des deux premiers attentats-suicides de l'histoire du Mali, commis par deux kamikazes morts en se faisant exploser contre un poste de contrôle de l'armée malienne.

    De violents combats y ont opposé dans le centre-ville des soldats français et maliens et combattants jihadistes, faisant au moins cinq morts et 17 blessés.

    Mardi, le président français François Hollande avait déclaré que l'opération Serval, lancée par l'armée française le 11 janvier pour prévenir une avancée vers le Sud et Bamako des islamistes armés qui occupaient le Nord, entrait dans sa "dernière phase". Il s'agit, avait-il dit, d'aller "jusqu'au bout, c'est-à-dire l'arrestation des derniers chefs ou groupes terroristes" demeurant dans l'extrême Nord.

    Selon des témoins et ONG de défense des droits de l'Homme, les opérations miliaires se sont accompagnées d'exactions de la part de soldats maliens contre des personnes accusées d'avoir collaboré avec les islamistes.

    Human Rights Watch a appelé jeudi le gouvernement malien à "poursuivre" ces soldats présumés auteurs d'atrocités, qui ont été dénoncées par des dizaines d'Arabes maliens lors d'une manifestation à Nouakchott, capitale de la Mauritanie voisine.


    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

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    Source: Croix-Rouge Burkinabé
    Country: Burkina Faso

    Par Sanna Negus, Croix-Rouge Finlandaise

    Dans le nord du Burkina Faso, des femmes rassemblées sur une plaine sablonneuse avec leurs enfants font la queue pour recevoir de la nourriture. L’arrivée soudaine de la pluie ne pertube pas l’ordre malgré les pleurs d’un enfant. Une fois arrivés à la tête de la file d’attente, les enfants reçoivent une portion de bouillie nutritive à bases d’arachide. Cette pâte bon marché est souvent ce que l’on sert aux familles pour faire face à la malnutrition chronique. Au début de l’année 2012, la crise alimentaire au Sahel - un groupe de pays qui bordent le sud du Sahara, de l’ Atlantique à la Mer Rouge - a été aggravée par les taux déjà élevés de malnutrition dans la région. La récolte de l’année précédente a été mauvaise en raison des pluies irrégulières et insuffisantes, et c’était la troisième fois en dix ans. Associée à la pauvreté chronique, les prix élevés des denrées alimentaires et l’instabilité politique, de nombreuses communautés ont été incapables de faire face. Selon l’Organisation des Nations Unies en Avril 2012, plus de 18 millions de personnes étaient confrontées à l’insécurité alimentaire, en particulier au Sénégal, au Burkina Faso, au Mali, en Mauritanie, en Gambie, au Niger et au Tchad. Marie-Christine Cormier, qui travaille pour la Croix-Rouge de Belgique au Burkina Faso, a souligné le lien étroit entre l’insécurité alimentaire et la malnutrition. « Les familles vulnérables qui ne peuvent pas acheter de la nourriture ou qui ont de maigres récoltes ne seront pas capables de se nourrir », dit-elle. « Par conséquent, les enfants de moins de cinq ans sont plus à risque de malnutrition ». Minadawo Darawos était désespérée ; les pleurs incessants de son bébé sont dus, selon ses doutes, à la faim. Le petit bébé de 11 mois était malade et souffre terriblement. « J’ai amené mon enfant au centre de dépistage où elle a été diagnostiquée comme souffrant de malnutrition », a déclaré Minadawo. « J’étais désespérée quand mon enfant est tombé malade, mais dès qu’elle a reçu des soins, j’ai su qu’elle allait survivre." La Croix-Rouge Burkinabè a mis en place des comités communautaires de nutrition pour alléger la pression sur les centres de santé. Ces comités font le dépistage de la malnutrition et assurent l’éducation nutrionnelle aux familles afin de s’assurer que les mères connaissent la meilleure façon d’utiliser les ressources alimentaires disponibles. Ils font également le suivi des cas confirmés de malnutrition. Alors que la nourriture était rare, les mères qui participent au programme ont appris à tirer le maximum de ce qui est disponible. Wodrawo Sanata, qui a neuf enfants, a déclaré que le conseil et le soutien ont apporté des changements significatifs dans la vie de sa famille. « Nous avions l’habitude d’avoir assez de nourriture pour tous, mais avec la crise alimentaire actuelle, il a été difficile de nourrir une grande famille », dit-elle. « Grâce à l’éducation nutritionnelle, je peux gérer dorénavant. Maintenant, je sais comment nourrir mon plus jeune enfant. Les enfants plus âgés ne sont plus dans une situation critique. » Le Burkina Faso est parmi les dix pays les plus pauvres du monde selon l’indice de développement humain des Nations Unies. L’espérance de vie est de 52 ans et presque un tiers des enfants de moins de cinq ans souffrent de malnutrition chronique. Dix pour cent souffrent de malnutrition aiguë. La Croix-Rouge de Belgique collabore avec la Croix-Rouge Burkinabé depuis 2007 avec le soutien d’ECHO (Direction Générale de l’aide humanitaire et de la protection civile de la Commission européenne pour aider près de 62’000 personnes affectées par cette crise récurrente. Les programmes prennent en charge les populations dans 210 villages isolés dans les neuf provinces les plus touchées par la malnutrition. Dans ces villages, 25 pour cent des enfants et 30 pour cent des femmes enceintes souffraient de malnutrition aiguë. Au cours des dernières années, les taux de malnutrition parmi les enfants et les femmes enceintes et allaitantes, participant au projet, ont été réduites de façon significative. Pour assurer la viabilité à long terme du programme Croix-Rouge, plus de 1’200 volontaires ont été formés dans les communautés à travers le pays afin de combattre cette catastrophe silencieuse.

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    Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid department
    Country: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria

    Key messages

    • The most vulnerable households in the Sahel are facing a triple crisis: an ongoing food and nutrition crisis; an erosion of their resilience due to recurrent stresses and chronic food insecurity; and region-wide ramifications of the Mali conflict.

    • Despite good harvests across the region in late 2012, food prices remain high, malnutrition among children has not decreased, and many families are more than ever indebted or impoverished after four consecutive food crises.

    • The unprecedented humanitarian aid effort in 2012 enabled the treatment of over one million severely malnourished children in the Sahel. Priority must now be given to measures to strengthen the resilience of the poorest and to tackle the root causes of the food and nutrition crises.

    • In 2013, the European Commission will continue to provide therapeutic nutrition care to children suffering from acute severe malnutrition and to provide safety nets in the form of cash and vouchers to allow the poorest to buy their own food on the local markets and thus, avoid them slipping back into crisis.

    • The European Commission was instrumental in forging AGIR-Sahel, a global alliance to strengthen resilience in the Sahel, which has set itself a ‘Zero Hunger’ goal within the next 20 years.

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    Source: Government of the Russian Federation
    Country: Mali, Russian Federation

    Pursuant to the order of the Russian Federation government an Emergency Ministry Ilyushin-76 with humanitarian aid aboard took off for Mali at 10:36 AM, Moscow time, on 22 February 2013.

    The plane is carrying 36 tonnes of humanitarian cargo: 45 tents, 2,000 blankets, tins, cereals.

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    Source: Inter Press Service
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali

    By Marc-Andre Boisvert

    GOUDEBO, Burkina Faso, Feb 22 2013 (IPS) - Fatimata Wallet Haibala sits among a group of women and teenage girls under a tent, her handicapped boy on her lap. The scene could be a rural picture of a Tuareg gathering in the desert. But the mother mother of five resides in a refugee camp in Goudebo, Burkina Faso, almost 100 kilometres from their home in Mali.

    “Life is harsher for women in the camp,” she tells IPS. “We have to take care of the family — men can walk around freely.” The widow makes money by re-selling to her fellow refugees the boxed milk and sugar that she buys from outside the camp. She has been here for more than a year now, escaping Mali before the crisis first hit in 2012.

    In early 2012, a rebellion saw the Tuareg – a traditionally nomadic community living across parts of Mali, Niger and Algeria– take over the north and nearly two-thirds of the country. But they did not hold the terrority for long.

    In April 2012, a coalition of armed Islamist groups allied with Al-Qaeda chased out the secular Tuareg-led National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad.

    The coalition – composed of Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), and Ansar Dine – was able to hold on the territory until a French intervention allowed the Malian army to reclaim the north last month.

    The crisis, so far, has created over 150,000 refugees in neighbouring countries – 40,000 in Burkina Faso alone – and 230,000 internally displaced persons within Mali.

    Every day, new refugees arrive at the camps. Most are “fair skinned” – Malian Arabs and Tuaregs.

    Fear of the retaliation at home

    The late father of Haibala’s children, a Tuareg, was a soldier loyal to the Malian army who died fighting a rebellion in Agelhok in eastern Mali, last February.

    As soon as the rebellion came closer to her home, Haibala chose to leave. She arrived in the camp in February 2012, long before Islamists imposed Sharia law in the north.

    “In Gao, all “fair skin” left. Now, we hear that they hunt us – I don’t see the day yet when we will go back,” the 49-year-old woman says.

    Fresh attacks shook the town as recenlty as Thursday, Feb. 21., when the Malian army battled Islamists.

    The fear of retaliation from their communities back home is the main reason why they do not want return to Mali.

    Stories of attacks against light-skinned folks, true or false, are intertwined with the harsh memories of the Tuareg rebellions of the 1990s, during which the Malian army and paramilitary groups executed several Tuareg and Arab civilians.

    Recent statements from Human Rights Watch confirm that executions have been carried out by the country’s army on suspected Islamist rebels and supporters, but President Dioncounda Traoré denied the allegations on Feb.20.

    Safe – for now

    Meanwhile, the refugee women gathered under a tent in the camp to discuss rumours of rapes and killings.

    Though none of the women here have been witness to the atrocities, they have heard stories. “We know that some traders have been killed by the army at Gao’s market,” comments Fatma Targui.

    Further away, in another tent, Abou Haoula and some friends drink tea. Tradition prevails in Goudebo and men and women do not mix much here.

    The men arrived here in January from Gao. Some came by cars, some rode on the back of donkeys or camels. When they reached their country’s boarder with Burkina Faso, they were taken in by the United Nations Refugee Agency.

    “We fled because of the bombings and fighting – that was just too much. A lost bullet could have hit us … We had to leave,” explains Haoula, who is in his fifties.

    He says that, from the time of the Islamist invasion untill the bombings, they had been able to receive a steady delivery of food from Algeria and from Bamako. After the French launched the first bombings in January, all life and the deliveries of needed supplies stopped. It is only then that Hauola and other refugees left.

    “The MUJWA was harsh, but they left us alone if we complied by the rules,” Amidy Ag Habo, tells IPS. Back home, he was the deputy mayor of N’takala, a small town 60 kilometres outside of Gao.

    “We did not know the Islamists. They were foreigners,” he adds, but still, the “fair skinned” are perceived as allies to the MUJWA in Gao.

    The Goudebo refugee camp lies in an arid region. Here, NGOs had to dig water holes and build basic infrastructure to meet the needs of some 7,444 refugees who had to be relocated here in January.

    Fears that fighting from Mali would spill across the border and kidnapping threats were some of the reasons why authorities relocated the camp.

    Inspite of the harsh conditions, Haoula is relieved to be here. “Now, we are able to sleep tight. I was not able to close an eye in Mali,” he says.

    The men, still dressed in their Tuareg headscarves, share the feeling that it is most likely payback time in Gao.

    “There is no government in northern Mali now. All decisions are taken by the military. They are the police, the judges, and the government. The French do not kill. They simply disregard what the Malian army is doing,” says Habo.

    For Fatou Wallet Mahadi, the Islamists were a lesser evil compared to the Malian army.

    “There is no Mali without Azawad. We, Tuaregs of the Azawad, now belong to Mali. We trust that one day we will be able to go back. But right now it is impossible. There are too many tensions. We are tired of violence erupting every 10 years. When we go back, we need to work on a real solution to live together,” she says.

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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/22/2013 11:52 GMT

    Par Anne LE COZ à Gao et Serge DANIEL à Bamako

    GAO (Mali), 22 fév 2013 (AFP) - Cinq personnes ont été tuées vendredi dans un attentat-suicide visant des rebelles touareg à Tessalit (extrême nord-est du Mali), au moment où, plus au sud, des tirs étaient toujours entendus à Gao après de violents combats entre soldats maliens et français et islamistes armés.

    L'attentat-suicide a été commis à l'aide de deux voitures piégées conduites par deux kamikazes à Inhalil, localité proche de Tessalit, près de la frontière algérienne, et visait des membres de la rébellion touareg du Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad (MNLA).

    Cette région montagneuse des Ifoghas, entre Kidal et Tessalit, sert de refuge à de nombreux islamistes armés liés à Al-Qaïda traqués par l'armée française depuis plusieurs semaines, mais est aussi le berceau des Touareg.

    A Inhalil, à l'aube, "deux véhicules kamikazes ont explosé visant des civils et des combattants du MNLA. Il y a eu trois morts, et plusieurs blessés dans les rangs du MNLA et parmi les civils", selon une source sécuritaire malienne, contactée par l'AFP dans le Nord depuis Bamako.

    L'information a été confirmée par un responsable du MNLA à Ouagadougou, Mohamed Ibrahim Ag Assaleh.

    "Deux véhicules piégés ont explosé dans une base du MNLA à 05H30 (locales et GMT) à Inhalil, près de Tessalit, à la frontière algérienne", a déclaré à l'AFP M. Ag Assaleh. "Les deux kamikaze sont morts et dans nos rangs il y a trois morts et quatre blessés graves", a-t-il ajouté.

    Il a accusé le groupe islamiste Mouvement pour l'unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (Mujao), d'être à l'origine de cet attentat.

    Selon la source sécuritaire malienne, "les terroristes ont toujours affirmé qu'ils combattraient les forces françaises et leurs alliés, c'est ce qui s'est passé à mon avis".

    Jeudi, un porte-parole de l'armée française, interrogé sur une éventuelle collaboration avec le MNLA, a déclaré "se coordonner" effectivement avec "les groupes qui ont les mêmes objectifs" que Paris.

    Le MNLA, laïc, qui avait lancé une offensive en janvier 2012 dans le nord du Mali contre l'armée malienne avec les groupes islamistes armés, en avait très vite été évincé par eux des grandes villes de Gao, Tombouctou et Kidal.

    Il est réapparu à Kidal et Tessalit à la faveur de l'intervention française contre les islamistes liés à Al-Qaïda qui a débuté le 11 janvier.

    Le Mujao avait revendiqué jeudi un "attentat"à Kidal (1.500 km au nord-est de Bamako), où un véhicule a explosé jeudi près d'un camp de militaires français et tchadiens, tuant son conducteur.

    "D'autres explosions auront lieu sur tout notre territoire", a dit le porte-parole du Mujao, Abu Walid Sahraoui.

    Mines, grenades et ceintures d'explosifs

    Les forces françaises avaient repris fin janvier le contrôle de l'aéroport de Kidal, ancien bastion islamiste, et quelque 1.800 soldats tchadiens sécurisent la ville contrôlée depuis peu par le MNLA qui y refuse la présence de soldats maliens.

    A 350 km au sud-ouest de Kidal, à Gao, plus grande ville du nord du Mali, des coups de feu sporadiques étaient entendus vendredi au lendemain de violents combats entre des soldats français et maliens et des combattants islamistes qui ont subi de lourdes pertes;

    Les coups de feu ont lieu en divers endroits de Gao, dont le centre où des snipers islamistes sont positionnés sur les toits, notamment sur celui du marché principal, a constaté une journaliste de l'AFP. Entre quinze et vingt islamistes ont été tués, deux soldats français "très légèrement blessés" et "quatre soldats maliens auraient été blessés" au cours des combats jeudi, selon l'armée française.

    Ces combats se sont concentrés dans le centre-ville, près de la mairie et du palais de justice, en grande partie détruits.

    Mais, selon un militaire malien, il y a dans les décombres de ces bâtiments de "nombreux" corps de combattants jihadistes qui portent des ceintures d'explosifs et tiennent à la main des grenades dégoupillées, ce qui rend leur évacuation délicate.

    Les alentours des deux bâtiments sont minés et les soldats maliens attendaient vendredi les démineurs de l'armée française.

    Les combats à Gao (1.200 km au nord-est de Bamako), entamés dans la nuit de mercredi à jeudi à la périphérie de la ville entre des islamistes infiltrés et des soldats nigériens, se sont poursuivis jeudi en centre-ville avec des soldats maliens.

    Ils ont été appuyés par l'armée française qui a fait intervenir deux hélicoptères Gazelle.

    Le Mujao qui a occupé Gao pendant neuf mois en 2012 avant qu'elle ne soit reprise par les armées française et malienne le 26 janvier, a affirmé avoir envoyé des combattants dans la ville, pour la "libérer des mécréants".

    Il a affirmé que "la bataille" ne faisait "que commencer" pour reconquérir Gao, Kidal et Tombouctou, les trois grandes villes du nord malien.

    Entre le 8 et le 10 février, Gao avait déjà été le théâtre de violences de la part des jihadistes qui y avaient commis les premiers attentats-suicides de l'histoire du Mali.


    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/22/2013 10:42 GMT

    GENEVE, 22 fév 2013 (AFP) - La situation au Mali n'est "pas du tout stable", a déclaré vendredi le chef de la délégation du CICR (Comité international de la Croix-Rouge) au Mali et au Niger, Jean-Nicolas Marti, de passage à Genève.

    "Contrairement à ce que certains auraient pu imaginer à la suite de la reprise des villes principales par l'armée française et par l’armée malienne, la situation n'est pas du tout stable, calme", a-t-il déclaré.

    Selon lui, les attaques suicides risquent de perdurer, et la "situation actuelle n'est pas propice au retour des populations".

    "Il y a eu des dizaines de milliers de personnes qui ont fui leurs villes déjà avant l'intervention française, mais il y en a eu d'autres dizaines de milliers", qui ont fui depuis cette intervention, a-t-il ajouté.

    Pour M. Marti, "il existe un sentiment de peur vis-à-vis des éventuelles exactions que pourraient commettre les forces de sécurité maliennes".

    On assiste à des retours très limités, selon le CICR. Ce sont souvent des aller-retours effectués par un homme jeune choisi dans la famille déplacée, qui va voir sur place s'il est possible de rentrer ou pas.

    Le CICR est en train de porter assistance à quelque 7.000 Maliens réfugiés au nord-est du pays, à Tinzawaten, près de la frontière algérienne. Le CICR leur a distribué des kits de biens essentiels, tels que des bâches et de jerricans, ainsi qu'une aide alimentaire.

    Par ailleurs, le CICR a pu visiter des prisonniers, arrêtés récemment, et incarcérés dans des prisons à Bamako et Mopti, ainsi qu'à la gendarmerie de Gao.

    Sans vouloir donner de détails sur l'état des prisonniers -des informations réservées aux autorités-, M. Marti a indiqué qu'il avait constaté "beaucoup de haine et de tensions accumulées".

    Le CICR dispose d'une équipe de 250 personnes au Mali et au Niger, constituée d'expatriés et de locaux.

    Au Nord Mali, quelque 50 personnes du CICR sont présentes, mais uniquement des locaux et des expatriés africains, pour des raisons de sécurité.

    Le CICR craint qu'une "certaine précarité" s'installe au nord du pays, où l'organisation a constaté des "tensions persistantes entre les ethnies".

    L'organisation a également indiqué être en contacts réguliers avec l'armée française. "Le dialogue est bien installé", a déclaré le délégué du CICR.

    Concernant le Niger, où le CICR s'occupe de quelque 5.000 réfugiés maliens à Niamey, M. Marti a déclaré que la situation "est calme". Il y a cependant "un certain sentiment de crainte parmi les expatriés", a-t-il dit, soulignant que la situation était compliquée en raison "des voisins turbulents du pays", citant la Libye, le Mali et le nord du Nigeria.


    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

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    Source: World Food Programme
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger

    BAMAKO – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has opened today a new land route for transporting vital food assistance from Niamey, in Niger, to northern Mali, where the volatile security situation and economic disruption is affecting food supplies.

    The first trucks delivered 200 metric tons of food to the town of Menaka, in the Gao region, and more convoys are on the way. In the coming days, this assistance will be distributed to 24,000 food-insecure people, in partnership with ACTED, a non-governmental organisation (NGO). WFP plans to use this route from Niger for further food deliveries to various locations in the regions of Gao and Kidal.

    Over the past two weeks, WFP has delivered almost 2,000 metric tons of food assistance to 100,000 conflict-affected people in northern Mali, mainly in the Timbuktu region, using a combination of river and road transport. This assistance was distributed in cooperation with Handicap International, Solidarités International and CARE. Some 80,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and their hosts were also assisted in the south of the country -- in the regions of Mopti, Ségou, Koulikoro, Kayes and in Bamako -- in partnership with CARE, ACTED and ADR (Association d’appui aux actions de développement rural).

    “We are actively expanding our logistics capacity to overcome access challenges in northern Mali,” said Zlatan Milisic, WFP Country Director in Mali. “Our next priority is to send more food to Kidal, hopefully in the next few days. And if we cannot reach certain areas by road or river, we will be ready to launch an air operation.”

    WFP is concerned that some areas in need of food assistance are not readily accessible, due to the volatile security situation and the risks of landmines and attacks. More worrying, the flow of imported commercial goods into northern Mali has been almost interrupted and as a result the economy has almost come to a standstill; markets are closed or barely functioning, prices are soaring and people are using up their remaining stocks. All this contributes to the threat of a looming food and nutrition crisis.

    WFP expects the volume of its humanitarian assistance in northern Mali to increase in the coming weeks, with the gradual reopening of more land routes. “This process is very slow, however, and we are worried that food is being consumed faster than it can be replaced, because of the serious lack of domestic trade and commercial imports,” added Milisic. Over a third of the population in northern Mali was dependent on food assistance even before the military intervention.

    Under an emergency operation, WFP plans to provide food and nutrition assistance in 2013 to more than half a million people in Mali. This includes more than 400,000 crisis-affected people in the north and some 130,000 IDPs and host families in the south. Emergency activities include food and cash distributions; programmes to prevent and treat malnutrition in children, pregnant women and nursing mothers -- and emergency school meals.

    WFP coordinates logistics and emergency telecommunication for the whole humanitarian community in Mali. WFP also runs the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), which provides air transport for humanitarian workers, and plans to reinforce the service.

    During last year’s drought, WFP supported more than 1 million people in Mali, as well as some 135,000 IDPs, 214,000 non-displaced people in the north and around 145,000 refugees in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger.

    WFP works with 15 partners for the emergency response in Mali -- CARE, Africare, Handicap International, Islamic Relief, Solidarités International, Action contre la Faim, OXFAM, Norwegian Church Aid, Médecins du Monde, ACTED, CSPEEDA, ADR, REACH, World Vision and AMRAD.

    WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries.

    Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media

    For more information please contact (email address:
    Zlatan Milisic, WFP/Bamako, Tel. + 223 20 79 20 45
    Daouda Guirou, WFP/Bamako, Tel. + 223 20 79 20 45
    Malek Triki, WFP/Dakar, Tel. +221 33 849 6500


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    Source: International Institute for Environment and Development, European Commission Humanitarian Aid department, Overseas Development Institute, CARE, Cordaid, Oxfam, Save the Children
    Country: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda


    The third REGLAP journal on good practice examples of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) begins with initiatives focused on disaster preparedness and mitigation. ACTED’s article on its widely used and much valued Drought Early Warning System in Karamoja (Uganda), explains how the system is now more efficient through the rethinking of indicators and the fine-tuning of warning thresholds. An article from Oxfam looks at how the agency is rethinking its approach to emergency water provision in Ethiopia and Kenya as part of tightening up its humanitarian response to drought.

    Many organisations are recognising the importance of working across borders in preparing for drought, and Cordaid’s article on Participatory Drought Risk Assessment at the Kenya-Ethiopia border demonstrates the benefits of taking a multi-agency cross-border approach. Partners are also continuing to learn more about disaster preparedness and mitigation techniques from the communities they work with, and the People First Impact Method (P-FIM) is introduced here as one way of understanding community viewpoints better. Transparency International provides a valuable set of recommendations on how to provide food assistance to communities during drought with greater integrity and accountability.

    The second section of the journal covers some of the initiatives that are building resilient livelihoods. In Karamoja it is recognised that livestock health is crucial for household resilience and drought response, and Dan Church Aid explains how the consortium it leads is improving coordination, communication and budgeting amongst all stakeholders in order to address cross-border livestock diseases. The Oxfam Somaliland article demonstrates how community development interventions that build resilience in the aftermath of civil war and ecosystem destruction can make a significant difference with very little financial investment.

    One of the important factors for pastoralists coping with repeated disasters is being able to trade their livestock assets easily, and viable livestock markets are therefore essential. Food for the Hungry-Kenya recognises the importance of improved marketing in resilience, and is assisting in the creation of community-based market management committees. An article by Oxfam Somaliland and Oxfam Ethiopia on the cross-border livestock trade advocates strongly for greater legal recognition of trading as a means of economic survival and food security in this marginalised region. Susie Wren’s article moves away from livestock, and looks at how other products from the biodiversity rich drylands could be better marketed and could potentially benefit communities as an alternative income source.
    The need for private sector involvement and investment in helping build resilience in dryland areas has long been discussed, and Farid Mohamed’s article outlines the Northern Kenya Investment Fund as a new model for attracting investors into the region. The fund is based on ‘impact investments’, an approach now gaining traction among socially conscious financiers.

    Prepared communities, fine-tuned development practice and effective finance can only go so far in building resilience: The Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs) in the Horn of Africa also need strong and effective leadership from national and regional governments. The third section of the journal looks at progress being made in coordination, capacity building and advocacy. To address the inherent vulnerabilities in the ASALs stricter adherence to environmental and social safeguards is required, but at the same time encouragement is also necessary if the ASALs are to attract the investment they require. The championing and coordination of development in the ASALs of Kenya is now the task of its newly created ASAL Secretariat, and Helen de Jode’s article introduces the objectives and structure behind this long-term institution.

    The other articles in the third section focus on the advocacy for policy reform that is a core part of DRR. The first discusses the slow progress in implementing the AU Pastoral Policy Framework. Ethiopia Oxfam’s article then explains how the dryland actors in Ethiopia have set out to learn from policy successes in West Africa with a valuable experience sharing visit and a national drylands workshop. And the section concludes with details of IGAD’s initiative to build a common programming framework to improve coordination and effectiveness in ending drought emergencies.

    The third REGLAP journal on good practice in Disaster Risk Reduction ends with Vanessa Tilstone’s article on the recent debate about resilience, what it means for practice, and what’s still needed to ensure that key constraints in development and resilience building in the drylands can be overcome.

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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/22/2013 12:22 GMT

    GENEVA, Feb 22, 2013 (AFP) - Tens of thousands of people who fled northern Mali are too scared to return despite the French-led military intervention to root out Islamist militia there, the Red Cross said Friday.

    "There has not been a wave of returns, ... and I don't think there will be a wave of returnees any time soon," said Jean-Nicolas Marti, who heads the International Committee of the Red Cross' mission in Mali and Niger.

    He said the continued unrest was discouraging many would-be returnees.

    "There is also fear among some based on their ethnic identities of possible acts of retaliation by the Malian armed forces," Marti said, adding that he could not confirm that any such acts had taken place.

    The UN meanwhile cautioned Friday that it had "heard horrifying reports from the north of human rights violations, recruitment of children and rising sexual violence."

    "Protection of civilians is an urgent humanitarian priority, not least in terms of the risk of explosive remnants of war and mines," Jens Laerke, spokesman for the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs, told reporters.

    Tens of thousands fled northern Mali after Islamic extremists grabbed the vast territory last April, and tens of thousands more fled after the French-led intervention began in January to hunt them down, Marti said.

    French-led forces wrested the main northern cities back from the Al Qaeda-linked rebels within weeks, but insurgency has continued.

    A suicide bombing Thursday in Kidal in the far north and an attack by jihadists in Gao were signs that unrest still plagued the region, Marti said. Five people were killed Friday in two more suicide bombings in the town of Tessalit.

    "Contrary to what some might have thought following French and Malian troops' recapturing of the main towns, the situation is not at all stable or calm," he added.

    While the ICRC did not expect to see mass returns, Marti said lone family members would go back to check on their property and scout out the security situation, but these were only "return trips".

    The ICRC was also concerned about the situation of prisoners, Marti said, pointing out that the organisation had visited prisons in Bamako and Mopti, as well as at the Gao police station.

    While he could not reveal what they had found there, he said "the situation is worrying" and that the findings had been reported to the authorities.

    "There is a lot of accumulated hate and tension," he cautioned.


    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/22/2013 12:50 GMT

    GENEVE, 22 fév 2013 (AFP) - La situation au Mali n'est "pas du tout stable", a déclaré vendredi le chef de la délégation du CICR (Comité international de la Croix-Rouge) au Mali et au Niger, Jean-Nicolas Marti, alors que l'ONU dénonce des "informations horrifiantes" en matière de droits de l'homme.

    "Du nord, nous avons entendu des rapports effrayants faisant état de violations des droits de l'homme, de recrutement d'enfants et de violences sexuelles en hausse", a souligné M. Jens Laerke, porte-parole du Bureau de coordination des affaires humanitaires de l'ONU (Ocha), sans donner de détails.

    "Une évaluation multisectorielle menée par International Medical Corps (une ONG, ndlr) à Tombouctou a confirmé que les violences physiques à l'encontre de la population, la présence d'enfants dans les groupes armés et leurs conséquences psychosociales sont des problèmes graves", se contente de dire un rapport d'Ocha publié le 20 février.

    De son côté, le délégué du CICR au Mali a déclaré que "contrairement à ce que certains auraient pu imaginer à la suite de la reprise des villes principales par l'armée française et par l’armée malienne, la situation n'est pas du tout stable, calme".

    Selon lui, les attaques suicides risquent de perdurer, et la "situation actuelle n'est pas propice au retour des populations".

    "Des dizaines de milliers de personnes ont fui leurs villes déjà avant l'intervention française, mais il y en a eu d'autres dizaines de milliers", après cette intervention, a-t-il ajouté.

    Pour M. Marti, "il existe un sentiment de peur vis-à-vis des éventuelles exactions que pourraient commettre les forces de sécurité maliennes".

    "La situation reste extrêmement volatile", a confirmé le porte-parole d'OCHA.

    Pour l'agence onusienne, "la protection reste une priorité urgente", soulignant que "l'accès au Nord reste limité en raison des menaces dues aux mines, aux récentes violences, aux opérations militaires en cours".

    Une porte-parole du Fonds des Nations unies pour l'enfance (Unicef) a rappelé aux journalistes que le recrutement d'enfants au Mali n'était pas un phénomène nouveau, spécifiant que "tous les groupes armés" enrôlent des enfants, "mais pas le gouvernement".

    Elle a par ailleurs dénoncé le manque de fonds envoyés par les donateurs pour le Mali. A la date du 19 février, l'appel de l'ONU pour ce pays avait reçu seulement 4% des 373 millions de dollars (283 millions d'euros) demandés.

    "Il y a un risque de détérioration considérable de la situation alimentaire dans les régions du Nord et une partie de la région de Mopti dès fin février", souligne le rapport d'OCHA.

    En janvier 2013, le PAM estimait que 585.000 personnes étaient en situation d'insécurité alimentaire dans le Nord, avec encore 1,2 million personnes vulnérables.

    Selon l'ONU et le CICR, le Mali assiste à des retours très limités, souvent des aller-retours effectués par un homme jeune choisi dans la famille déplacée, qui va voir sur place s'il est possible de rentrer ou pas.

    En revanche, le nombre de nouveaux déplacés continue de progresser, avec 15.973 nouveaux déplacés dans les régions de Ségou, Bamako et Mopti identifiés entre le 12 janvier et le 10 février. Au total, l'ONU a recensé plus de 227.200 déplacés au Mali au 31 décembre.

    Par ailleurs, plus de 167.700 réfugiés maliens sont enregistrés dans les pays voisins.

    Le CICR porte actuellement assistance à quelque 7.000 Maliens réfugiés dans le nord-est du pays, à Tinzawaten, près de la frontière algérienne.

    Par ailleurs, le CICR a pu visiter des prisonniers, arrêtés récemment, et incarcérés dans des prisons à Bamako et Mopti, ainsi qu'à la gendarmerie de Gao.

    Sans vouloir donner de détails sur l'état des prisonniers -des informations réservées aux autorités- M. Marti a indiqué qu'il avait constaté "beaucoup de haine et de tensions accumulées".

    Le CICR dispose d'une équipe de 250 personnes au Mali et au Niger, constituée d'expatriés et de locaux.

    Environ 50 personnes du CICR sont présentes dans le nord du Mali, mais uniquement des locaux et des expatriés africains, pour des raisons de sécurité.

    Par ailleurs, l'organisation a indiqué être en contacts réguliers avec l'armée française.

    Concernant le Niger, où le CICR s'occupe de quelque 5.000 réfugiés maliens à Niamey, M. Marti a déclaré que la situation était "calme", avec cependant "un certain sentiment de crainte parmi les expatriés", la situation étant compliquée en raison "des voisins turbulents du pays", la Libye, le Mali et le nord du Nigeria.


    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

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    Source: Government of Kenya, Action Against Hunger-USA
    Country: Kenya


    An integrated nutrition, food security and retrospective mortality survey was undertaken by the Ministry of Health and ACF during the rainy season (May 2012) in West Pokot County. The overall survey objective was to determine the rates of acute malnutrition amongst children aged 6-59 months and the population’s mortality rates1 in West Pokot County.

    SMART2 methodology was utilized in the implementation of the survey. Adequate and prior planning were crucial in actualization of the survey objectives despite heavy rains in the area that constrained access to part of the sampled clusters; a challenge that was tackled by accessing replacement clusters.

    Findings from this study revealed critical global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates of 12.3% (9.4 – 16.0) and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) rates of 1.5% (0.7 – 3.2). These findings show no significant difference with the 2011 malnutrition rates recorded during a similar period. Crude and under five mortality rates of 0.22% (0.09 – 0.57) and 0.87%(0.28 – 2.70) respectively were obtained. These lie below the WHO alert and emergency mortality thresholds. Additional information was gathered to provide more insight into factors underlying the acute malnutrition mortality rates (See appendix 1: Summary of Key findings). In summary, high disease incidence, poor infant and young child nutrition, increased distance to facilities that inhibit prompt health care seeking behavior, limited access to safe water, low latrine coverage/ usage and compromised food security are some of the contributing factors to the prevailing malnutrition rates.

    The above findings indicate the need for an integrated and concerted effort in tackling the probable determinants of malnutrition in West Pokot.

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    Source: IFRC
    Country: Burkina Faso

    By Sanna Negus, Finnish Red Cross

    In northern Burkina Faso, women gathered on a sandy plain with their children. They were queuing for food. As the rain began to fall, a child cried, but everything was orderly. When they reached the head of the queue, the children received a portion of nutritious peanut porridge. This inexpensive paste is often what stands between these families and chronic malnutrition.

    In early 2012, the food crisis in the Sahel – a band of countries spanning the north of Africa from the Atlantic to the Red Sea – was compounded by the already high rates of malnutrition in the region. The previous year’s harvest failed due to erratic rain, and this was the third time in ten years. Combined with chronic poverty, high food prices and political instability, many communities were unable to cope.

    According to the United Nations in April 2012, more than 18 million people faced food insecurity, particularly in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Gambia, Niger and Chad.

    Marie-Christine Cormier, working for the Belgian Red Cross in Burkina Faso, emphasized the strong link between food insecurity and malnutrition. “Vulnerable families who cannot buy food or have meagre harvests won’t be able to feed themselves,” she said. “Therefore, children under the age of five are at higher risk of malnutrition.”

    Minadawo Darawos was desperate; her baby’s incessant crying was, she suspected, due to hunger. The tiny 11 month old was sick and suffering.

    “I took my child to the screening centre where she was diagnosed as malnourished,” Minadawo said. “I was desperate when my child got sick but as soon as she received care, I knew she would survive.”

    The Burkinabe Red Cross started community nutrition committees to ease pressure on the health centres by screening for malnutrition and providing education to ensure mothers know the best way to use the resources that are available. They also follow-up on confirmed cases.

    While food was scarce, mothers participating in the programme have learned how to make the most of what is available.

    Wodrawo Sanata, who has nine children, said the advice and support has made a real difference to her families lives. “We used to be able to bring food on the table, but during the current food crisis it’s been difficult to feed a large family,” she said. “Thanks to the nutritional education, I can manage. Now I know how to feed my youngest child. The older children are not in a critical situation.”

    Burkina Faso is among the ten poorest countries in the world according to the UN Human Development Index. Life-expectancy is mere 52 years and almost a third of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition. Ten per cent suffer from acute malnutrition.

    The Belgian Red Cross has been working with the Burkinabe Red Cross since 2007 with support from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) to help nearly 62,000 people hit by this recurrent crisis. The programme supported people in 210 isolated villages in nine provinces most affected by malnutrition. In these villages, 25 per cent of children and 30 per cent of pregnant women were acutely malnourished.

    Over the last few years, malnutrition rates among the children and pregnant and lactating women participating in the project have reduced significantly. To ensure the long-term sustainability of the Red Cross programme, more than 1,200 volunteers have also been trained in communities across the country in an effort to continue fighting this silent disaster.

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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    02/22/2013 20:46 GMT

    GAO, Mali, Feb 22, 2013 (AFP) - Five people, including two suicide bombers, died Friday in car bombings in northern Mali, a day after fierce urban battles between French-led forces and Islamists left up to 20 extremists dead, officials said.

    Two vehicles targeting civilians and members of the ethnic Tuareg rebel group, the MNLA, exploded near the town of Tessalit, killing three and wounding several others, a security source said. The suicide bomber drivers also died.

    A spokesman for the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) in Burkina Faso confirmed the report. Mohamed Ibrahim Ag Asseleh said "the two kamikazes were killed and in our ranks there were three dead and four seriously wounded".

    The blasts came after Al-Qaeda-linked rebels claimed a car bomb attack on Thursday near a camp occupied by French and Chadian troops in the city of Kidal, local officials said.

    At least two civilians were reported wounded in that attack. The vehicle, apparently driven by a suicide bomber, was targeting the camp but exploded before it reached it, killing the driver, an official in Kidal governor's office said.

    France sent in troops on January 11 to help the Malian army oust Islamist militants who last year captured the desert north of the country. Thousands of soldiers from African countries have also deployed since then and France plans to start withdrawing its troops next month.

    But the French-led forces are increasingly facing guerrilla-style tactics after initially meeting little resistance in their drive to oust Islamists from the main northern centres of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.

    The Tuareg MNLA blamed Friday's car bomb attacks on the Al-Qaeda-linked Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), one of Mali's main Islamist groups.

    The MUJAO made no comment on the latest attacks, but on Thursday it told AFP that it was responsible for the car bomb in Kidal.

    "More explosions will happen across our territory," MUJAO spokesman Abu Walid Sahraoui warned.

    He also said the group had sent fighters to Gao, 1,200 kilometres (745 miles) from the capital Bamako, where battles with French-backed troops erupted overnight Wednesday after about 40 Islamists infiltrated the city.

    The French military reported Friday that between 15 and 20 Islamists had died in the street clashes, mostly focused around the court house and the city hall, while two French troops received light injuries and four Malian soldiers were also thought to have been wounded.

    More gunfire was heard in Gao on Friday, with Malian soldiers opening fire with rocket-propelled grenades on the city hall, killing at least one Islamist, according to Malian army colonel Mamadou Samake.

    The bodies of four rebels were also found inside the building, he added.

    A Malian soldier earlier said "many" bodies of dead fighters in the urban clashes wore explosives belts and that mines had been laid in the area, for which French deminers were called in.

    -- Rebels determined to retake Gao --

    MUJAO spokesman Sahraoui on Thursday said the rebels were determined to recapture the city: "Our troops have been ordered to attack. If the enemy is stronger, we'll pull back only to return stronger, until we liberate Gao."

    A French legionnaire was killed on Tuesday in the mountainous Ifoghas region. The French military said that their "Panthere 4" operation in the Ifoghas had already left 30 Islamists dead since the start of the week.

    Mali's Prime Minister Diango Cissoko said this week that large-scale military operations in the north were winding down, but sporadic fighting has continued.

    The Red Cross said the clashes in Gao showed that unrest still plagued the region.

    "The situation is not at all stable or calm," said Jean-Nicolas Marti, who heads the International Committee of the Red Cross mission in Mali and Niger.

    The UN meanwhile said it had heard "horrifying reports" of human rights violations in northern Mali, echoing concerns by Human Rights Watch which has urged Bamako to act in the light of reports of serious abuses committed by Malian troops against light-skinned people, particularly Arabs and Tuaregs.

    Ethnic Tuaregs in the north, who have long sought greater autonomy, initially backed the rebellion but later fell out with the Islamists and regained control of Kidal before the arrival of French troops.

    Asked whether it was coordinating its efforts with the Tuaregs of the MNLA, the French military said Thursday it was working with "groups that have the same objective" as France.


    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

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    Source: IFRC
    Country: Gambia, Kenya, World

    Katherine Mueller, IFRC

    It is dry. Extremely dry. Everyone and everything needs water, from people to livestock to vegetables in the garden. But rain is months away: it is drought season in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Recently, organizations including UNISDR, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and 16 Red Cross societies from Africa came together in Arusha, Tanzania, to discuss ways to improve resilience to drought and to define a position on a new global framework for disaster risk reduction.

    Outcomes from the the 5th Africa Drought Adaptation Forum and the 4th Africa Regional Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction will feed into the 2013 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, as well as the development of the Hyogo Framework for Action. Recommendations included a commitment to DRR investment and building resilient cities, and also to reducing risk through climate change adaptation.

    “Eighty per cent of our population is affected by the drought that hits Kenya every two years,” said Suada Ibrahim, Disaster Management Manager at the Kenya Red Cross Society. “Communities don’t have time to recover, so they become more vulnerable.”

    Drought drives vulnerability through malnutrition, migration, conflicts over scarce resources, and skyrocketing food prices. But Ibrahim questions the traditional model of relief. “Are we really being fair to communities by rushing in with food relief?” she asked a group of journalists attending the forum. “To build true resilience, we need to focus on educating people and working with communities to ensure they have timely access to climate information, for example.”

    Following a successful campaign that saw Kenyans raise $10m US dollars to support operations during the 2011 drought, the Kenya Red Cross Society launched an initiative in the Sololo district to increase the ability of people to cope with the cycle of droughts and floods. The project focused on integrating food security, water and sanitation and health; one year later and farmers have enough food to feed their families, with extra to sell at the market. Cooperatives have been established to help manage their funds, and produce, in a sustainable way.

    “People need to adapt to drought or they will perish,” said Ibrahim.

    A similar approach has proven to be effective for the Gambia Red Cross Society. Supported by the IFRC, staff and volunteers have adopted a twin track approach which links disaster response and recovery programming. Last year, 115,800 people were supported through the provision of food baskets; 42,859 people received seeds and fertilizer distributions.

    Red Cross staff and volunteers are regularly in schools, planting fruit trees, providing water and latrines, and teaching students about proper hygiene. They work with refugees, establishing income generating activities through ‘food for work’ programmes; create community farms to ensure there are food reserves; and teach women about nutrition.

    “We are looking at the baseline of what is happening in the community and what can we do to increase the food intake of these people,” said Buba Darboe of the Gambia Red Cross Society. “We want people to have the best balanced diet.”

    The result has been increased food production and income, and better access to safe water. All of which contribute to the ability of communities to cope when the rains stop coming.

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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Mali

    BAMAKO, 22 February 2013 – The crisis in Mali has disrupted the education of some 700,000 Malian children, leaving 200,000 still with no access to school both in the North and South of the country, according to UNICEF and educational authorities in Mali.

    Since January 2012, 115 schools in the North were closed, destroyed, looted and in places contaminated with unexploded ordnance. Many teachers have failed to return to the North and already overcrowded schools in the South cannot cope with the influx of displaced students from the North.

    "In Mali, the armed conflict has affected the education of hundreds of thousands of children, violating their right to education," says Minister of Education Moussa Bocar Diarra. “To give new hope to those affected by the crisis, hundreds of schools need to be built or rehabilitated, and equipped with school canteens.”

    "Thousands of teachers will need to be trained. They are in need of materials and textbooks, including those relating to the culture of peace and tolerance. Strong national and international support will allow us to address these challenges” he added.

    In the North, only one in three schools is functioning. In Kidal, all schools are closed while in Timbuktu 5 per cent have reopened. In Gao, only 28 per cent of teachers have resumed work. "Being at school, I heard gunshots," said Amadou, a 12-year-old from Douentza in the Mopti region who was displaced to Sévaré, where he is now attending school.

    "The head teacher told us to go home,” he said. “Even being at home, I heard gunshots. For about two weeks, I did not go to school. I forgot a lot of things, because I was upset. The shots that I heard in Douentza caused me much fear. But now I've forgotten it all and I begin to live as before. "

    Since December 2012, UNICEF has trained 1,190 Malian teachers to provide psychosocial support and mine risk education to children. More than 16,000 children affected by the conflict have received educational materials across the country.

    "When a teacher is afraid to teach and when a student is afraid to go to school, the whole education is at risk," said Françoise Ackermans, UNICEF Representative in Mali.

    With the technical and financial support of UNICEF, education authorities and partners have agreed to accelerate the return of children to school, especially in the North. "We have to save the school year for our children, especially our girls," said the President of the Crisis Committee of Timbuktu.

    All education partners in Mali launched a humanitarian funding appeal in November 2012 for US$18.8 million. To date no funds have been received.

    About UNICEF

    UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

    For more information, please contact:

    In Bamako -- Laurent Duvillier, UNICEF West and Central Africa, Cell: +221 77 740 35 77 or +221 77 637 66 04 or +223 75 99 34 64,

    In Dakar -- Martin Dawes, UNICEF West and Central Africa, Tel:+221 338 69 58 58 / LD: +221 338 69 58 42, Cell: +221 77 740 46 79,

    In Geneva -- Marixie Mercado, UNICEF Geneva, Tel: +41-22-909-5716 Cell: +41-79-756-7703,

    0 0

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

    0 0

    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Western Sahara


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

    • Following the military intervention on 11 January 2013, there are an additional 15 973 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mali and 21 645 new refugees arrived in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and the Niger. This adds to the estimated 227 206 IDPs in Mali and 167 782 refugees registered at the end of 2012.

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

    • In 2012, FAO requested USD 122 million to address the crisis (including the locust threat). Overall,
      USD 58 million (48 percent) were mobilized. While these funds have enabled supporting almost 5.2 million people, important livelihood needs were left unattended.

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

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

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