The humanitarian crisis in Mali continues to worsen. The social, political and economic tensions that arose in the north in 2012 continue unabated, with the extension of the crisis into the central regions in January 2019 and the spread of armed actors and inter-community conflicts. Improvised explosive devices, banditry, proliferation of small weapons, attacks against civilians and grave violations of children's rights have led to an increasing number of internal displacements. As of August 2019, over 168,500 people are internally displaced, compared with 77,000 at the same time in 2018. Most of the displaced are living in host communities. Of the 3.6 million people in need, 55 per cent are children. More than 900 schools are closed, depriving over 451,000 children of their educations. Children and women are also facing serious protection risks, including grave violations of human rights, such as killing, maiming, recruitment by armed groups and gender-based violence. An estimated 1.3 million people require safe water, over 194,000 children under 5 years are at risk of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and 650,000 people are food insecure in the country's Sahel region. Mali is also vulnerable to climate change and prone to natural disasters such as flooding and droughts.
In line with the inter-agency humanitarian strategy to save lives and protect affected populations, in 2020–2022, UNICEF will address the urgent needs of the most vulnerable populations in crisis-affected regions in Mali, while strengthening the linkages between humanitarian action and development programming and prioritizing community-based approaches. As lead of the nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and education clusters and the child protection sub-cluster, UNICEF will support the Government and other partners to strengthen their capacities for coordination, preparedness and risk-informed response. Health and nutrition systems will be strengthened to better manage SAM cases through an integrated package of nutrition and WASH activities, measles campaigns, community-based management of childhood illnesses and newborn care. Access to safe water will be improved by applying both immediate and durable solutions in displacement sites, communities, health centres and schools. UNICEF will provide psychosocial support to crisis-affected children and adolescents; facilitate the release of children from armed groups and their reintegration; support survivors of gender-based violence; and reinforce the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism. Education efforts will focus on innovative community-based approaches, mental health and psychosocial support and risk mitigation in schools.