People of northern Mali urgently need help to rebuild lives and livelihoods
(New York, 26 February 2013): OCHA’s Director of Operations, John Ging, called today on the international community to help Malians rebuild their lives after a period of brutal violence and economic collapse. Mr. Ging was speaking in New York after a four-day mission to Mali, during which he visited the historic city of Timbuktu and the central town of Mopti.
“The people of Mali have suffered appallingly,” said Mr. Ging. “Now is the time for us to help.” He said community representatives emphasized to him that they did not want to become dependent on international aid but were seeking basic support.
“These are dignified people who are not asking for much,” said Mr. Ging. “In the north, they want to get back on their feet after a year of brutality and devastation. They want protection, they want to send their children back to school, to have a functioning health service, to reopen markets and to sow their crops in time for a successful harvest.”
Since the conflict began in January 2012, more than 430,000 people have been displaced, including more than 170,000 who have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries. This has left health clinics short of doctors, schools without teachers and power plants without engineers. Food insecurity in the north has increased due to the disruption of trade routes and a steep rise in food prices. Unexploded ordnance and mines are a daily risk and Mr. Ging said he heard terrible stories of violence against women and children.
In a meeting with Prime Minister Diango Cissoko at the end of his visit, Mr. Ging said that the people he met told him their number one priority was the protection of civilians and respect for human rights. He noted that people in the north are traumatized and living in fear, and said the Government must be proactive in rebuilding trust and confidence amongst communities.
“This is a crucial moment for Mali,” said Mr. Ging. “To truly build a foundation for the future, protecting civilians and upholding human rights must be the top priority. This starts with respect for international human rights and humanitarian law by the Mali security forces.”
Mr. Ging called on donors to increase their support for humanitarian aid urgently, noting that the 2013 humanitarian appeal in Mali calls for US$373 million, including $153 million for the most urgent interventions in the next six months, but has so far only received $17 million.