Mali: More than 34,000 persons left to starve await humanitarian aid

While the number of persons fleeing intercommunal violence, armed groups' activities, and military operations is rising in central and northern Mali, humanitarian agencies are unable to provide emergency relief to starving women and children after running out of funds.

"Instead of providing lifesaving aid, we are witnessing mothers forced to watch their children cry out of hunger, at the risk of dying. Mothers are begging us for food and help, and so we, the aid community, are now calling international actors to heed their call," said Hassane Hamadou, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Mali.

More than 34,000 persons recently displaced by violence in central and northern Mali are left without humanitarian assistance despite having their needs recorded by aid agencies. Faced with an unexpected increase in people forced to flee within the country, NRC exhausted its funding for emergency responses in September and since then has been unable to offer life-saving relief to newly displaced persons.

NRC and its partners* from the Rapid Response Mechanism, an inter-agency tracking and alert system used in conflict and displacement setting, are deeply worried and are calling for a rapid mobilization of financial partners, without which thousands of lives could be threatened.

Nearly 70,000 persons have been newly displaced by violence and insecurity over the past two months, bringing the total number of displaced persons to 120,000 since the beginning of this year. The large majority of new displacements have occurred in regions affected by intercommunal violence, armed groups' activities, and military operations such as Segou, Mopti, Timbuktu, Gao and Ménaka.

"More than a third of those who are fleeing violence are mothers with their children, left alone to fend for themselves. Men, afraid to be targeted by armed groups, often go hide in the bush with close to nothing to survive," explains Hamadou.

"My children and I have been living under this tree for over a month. My three children are sick and hungry," said a mother displaced from Menaka interviewed by NRC staff. "We ran away without a thing. The only thing we could think of was to make it alive. Since we have been here, we have had nothing to eat. When my children start crying, I run to go find some millet seeds I can feed them with."

About 5.2 million people require humanitarian assistance in Mali, this year. The needs are higher than at any time since the beginning of the security crisis in 2012, according to OCHA. So far, the USD 330 million UN aid appeal for Mali is half funded, while the number of people in need continues to rise. This means that millions of people will most likely never receive assistance before the end of this year.

*Action contre la faim (ACF), Catholic Relief Service (CRS), DanChurchAid (DCA), International Rescue Committe (IRC), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), et Solidarités International (SI)

For media inquiries, please contact:

Dakar - Hajer Naili, Regional Media Adviser, +221 76 637 43 99 -

Bamako - Hassane Hamadou, NRC Country Director, +223 75 99 54 14 -