The joint UN-OIC Humanitarian mission concludes its visit to Mali and reiterates its solidarity with crisis-affected people and the Government of Mali

(Bamako/Dakar, 19 October 2012): The joint humanitarian mission in the Sahel region, comprising the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has now completed its two-day visit to Mali.

During its visit to Mali, the mission discussed the humanitarian crisis in the country with the Government, the diplomatic corps as well as the humanitarian community and civil society organizations. Participants of the mission also visited a nutritional centre in the district of Kangaba, region of Koulikoro.

The delegation was jointly led by Ambassador Yehia Lawal from the OIC and Mr Aurélien Agbenonci, Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Mali. The mission expressed its deep solidarity with the people and Government of Mali, which is faced with a grave humanitarian situation, and its commitment to provide support.

"We reiterate our commitment to support the efforts of the Government of Mali through this visit. The suffering experienced by children who are affected by malnutrition is unacceptable and calls for more solidarity," said Ambassador Lawal Yahia at the end of the visit to Kangaba nutrition centre, on Thursday, 19 October 2012.

Indeed, more than five million people are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance in Mali. This represents about one third of the population estimated at 15.8 million. Around 4.6 million people are food insecure, while 560,000 children are affected by malnutrition. This situation has been exacerbated by the unstable security situation in the north of the country which has disrupted basic social services such as health, education and water and sanitation in a context where the protection of civilians is no longer assured. The number of people displaced by the crisis is estimated at around 320,000 of whom 118,000 are internally displaced and 200,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

"The visit of the joint mission has allowed us to present the complexity of the humanitarian situation to the international community,” said Mr Aurélien Agbénonci, Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Coordinator of the in Mali. "It is urgent to strengthen humanitarian assistance to save lives while respecting human dignity and preventing an increase of humanitarian needs in countries neighbouring Mali. Interventions can no longer wait because humanitarian needs are becoming bigger day by day while available resources are still insufficient” he added.

The aim of the visit was also to better understand the current humanitarian situation in Mali, assess the assistance already provided, as well as discussing the challenges faced by the Government and the humanitarian actors. Given the cross-border character of the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel, members of the mission who flew to Mali from Niger will be leaving to Burkina Faso afterwards. It is worth noting that more than 2.8 million people are affected by the food and nutrition crisis in Burkina Faso, including 100,000 children who are at risk of severe acute malnutrition.

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