New advance by Islamists in Mali may cause secondary displacement of children

from Plan International
Published on 04 Sep 2012

Aid workers brace for influx of refugees and IDPs

BAMAKO, Mali – The international children’s charity, Plan International, is warning that internally displaced children (IDPs) sheltering in Mopti may become displaced again after a nearby town fell to Islamist forces on Monday.

The insurgents reported that they regained control of Douentza after they disarmed the local militia without a fight.

Douentza is just over two hours drive (186km) from Mopti which has become the de facto border between the north and the south. It is also the focal point of emergency relief operations for thousands of people displaced by fighting in the north (IDPs).

“This could mean that the humanitarian frontier may need to be pushed back several hundred kilometres to the south and the IDPs in Mopti may have to move again,” said Plan Mali Country Director Michelet William.

About 400km south-west of Mopti is the town of Segou where thousands of IDPs are sheltering with relatives and friends. Plan Mali has relief operations there and has contingency plans in place should that become the new frontier.

“This new development illustrates how complex the challenge for Mali's government is and how long and difficult their fight will be in re-gaining control of the north. We also expect thousands more IDPs to move southward and more refugees crossing the borders into Niger, Burkina Faso and other neighbouring countries,” he added.

William said he was particularly concerned about the welfare of IDP children, many of whom have reported to be feeling stressed, discouraged, lonely and suffering from nightmares. He said that 70 per cent of IDP children in the south were sent here by their parents to live with friends and relatives and in need of special care and protection.

International appeals for funding to help displaced children and their families have been under-funded putting a strain on aid agencies to adequately help the most vulnerable, he added.

Further details please contact:

Thiekoro Coulibay, PR and Communications Advisor, Plan Mali
Mobile: +223 76 29 40 42

Florence Cisse, Regional Media Specialist, Senegal,
Mobile: +221 777 403 600,

Terry Ally, Press Officer, Emergencies and Disasters, Plan International HQ, UK,
Mobiles: + 44 7881 379 517 (UK), +223 66 17 30 29 or +223 70 79 55 17 (Mali)

About Plan

Founded 75 years ago, Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world. We work in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote child rights and lift millions of children out of poverty. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.