As violence in northern Mali continues, people afraid for their safety are taking refuge in the neighboring country of Mauritania. Many of them fled with nothing, leaving their belongings and livestock behind. Without access to milk and meat from livestock, an alarming number of refugees are suffering from malnutrition. So far, 74,000 displaced people have sought refuge in Mauritania, and more are arriving by the hundreds each day, in desperate need of help.
Emergency Relief for Displaced People
Action Against Hunger emergency response teams have rushed to the aid of thousands of displaced Malians. So far, our efforts have helped to reduce malnutrition rates in the area, but the situation is still very serious. Our teams continue to work in the refugee camps, providing emergency nutrition provisions, basic health education, and proper water storage techniques. We have also launched an innovative cash-based initiative that will help pregnant and nursing women earn money to buy food and other staple goods for their families.
“We promote breastfeeding, because suddenly stopping breastfeeding can cause children younger than two years old to become malnourished in a very short time. Our programs prioritize breastfeeding and basic health care. We also teach water storage techniques, because although the water is chlorinated, contamination arises from problems with storage.”
– Montse Escruela, Nutritionist, Action Against Hunger Emergency Response Team, Mauritania
Supporting an Already Fragile Mauritania
While our work with the Malian refugees is critical, we also support communities in Mauritania, where we have been working to treat and prevent rising outbreaks of malnutrition caused by the recent food crisis in the Sahel region. The area’s already limited resources are being stretched thin by the growing number of displaced Malians entering the country. Equal access to resources like food, water and land is crucial for the health and safety of both groups.
Though displaced Malians hope to return to their homes soon, instability in the region may keep them from returning for months, or even years. In the meantime, we will continue to run programs in Mali and Mauritania that provide both countries’ citizens with security during difficult times.