Mali: Tens of thousands flee latest outbreak of fighting

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
OCHA Spokesperson Jens Laerke briefing reporters in Geneva
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
Geneva: Tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing the latest outbreak of fighting in Mali that has led to French air strikes against Islamist strongholds in the northern part of the country, the United Nations said. 

Conflict in the north of the country has triggered widespread displacement within Mali and into neighbouring countries, uprooting half a million people and placing pressure on vulnerable host communities still recovering from the Sahel drought.

Briefing reporters in Geneva, Jens Laerke, the Spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, "The number of IDPs is estimated is at about 330,000 as of yesterday", adding that it was estimated that "4.2 million Malians will need humanitarian help in 2013." 

Also briefing journalists, the UN Children's fund (UNICEF) warned that the large numbers of displaced people could lead to families being separated. 

Marixie Mercado, UNICEF's Spokesperson said that "there are large numbers of displaced people, and our major concern is that children are separated from their families, which can make them much more vulnerable to many forms of abuse, including recruitment and sexual violence."

Elisabeth Byrs, the World Food Program's spokesperson said that WFP's projects to assist Malians were 96 per cent underfunded. She the goal for this year is to reach nearly 400'00 people in need in Tambouktou, Gao and Kidam, and also to serve 130,000 IDPs lodging with other families- in the south of the country. -UNifeed
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