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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 22 January 2013

The European Commission boosts its humanitarian aid in Mali as crisis response Commissioner visits the country to assess needs

The European Commission is boosting again its humanitarian aid for the Mali crisis with €20 million – a needed increase that will help respond to the escalating crisis in the country where large numbers of people are fleeing from the conflict and thousands of children are severely malnourished.

The European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, is in Mali now, returning after her last visit a month ago. She is assessing the situation to determine how the aid can be spent to reach maximum impact.

She said: "Since last year, the Malian people have been hit by a triple-crisis: first a drought and crops failure, followed by a political crisis and then the outbreak of fighting when Islamist radical groups took control of the north.

"By acting early and coordinating the international response we were able to avert the worst effects of the food crisis, here and in the rest of the Sahel, bringing relief to some 18 million people".

"However, the increasing impact of violence and fighting in the north has forced more than 350,000 people to flee to the south and to neighbouring countries and caused massive humanitarian needs. We increased our response by 20 million euros to support the operations of humanitarian partners in Mali and in neighbouring countries whom I met during my visit in Bamako last December. But since then the situation has further deteriorated with combats between Islamist forces and Malian army coming closer to the South, resulting in additional needs. We have therefore mobilised an additional 20 million euros to meet the increased humanitarian vulnerability".

"I appeal to other donors to act swiftly as the populations have been weakened by months for hardship. I also appeal to all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and the respect for international humanitarian law".

The new emergency funding will be used to help severely malnourished children, to assist about 100,000 refugees from Mali in neighboring countries, and to provide up to 150,000 people in Mali affected by the ongoing fighting with food and basic services.

The humanitarian situation in Mali is increasingly volatile: intense fighting is causing population displacements while humanitarian organisations are struggling to access certain areas.

The intensification of the conflict is aggravating the on-going food and nutritional crisis with millions of Malians at risk of food insecurity in 2013. Despite a good harvest, prices of staple foods remain high, making them inaccessible to the poorest. Severe malnutrition rates remain above emergency thresholds in certain areas in the south while surveys could not be carried out in the north.

Background

A large-scale emergency response is needed on two fronts: to address additional needs caused by the conflict and to limit the toll of food insecurity and malnutrition.

Malians displaced by last year's fighting – 145,000 refugees and 200,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) – are joined by newcomers in camps set up in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and in villages and towns of southern Mali. This situation is adding even more pressure to host communities who are already suffering from a major nutrition crisis which continues to affect the Sahel. In all an estimated 10.8 million people will be at risk of hunger in the Sahel region in 2013, including 4.2 million Malians. In northern Mali, 510,000 people are estimated to be in need of immediate food assistance.

In 2012 the European Commission allocated €73 million to Malians who were victims of the food crisis and political conflict in the country. In addition, the Member States of the European Union provided another €38 million (bringing the EU's total contribution in 2012 to €111 million).

The European Commission’s humanitarian aid to Mali has enabled UN agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement and international NGOs to react rapidly to the growing humanitarian needs. Despite a challenging security situation, emergency organisations have continued to provide health care, medical supplies, nutrition services, food assistance, water and sanitation support, prevention and treatment of epidemics in Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu regions.

Following the meeting last week of the Foreign Affairs called by the EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, the European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs announced the European Commission decision to allocate €50 million from the Peace Facility for Africa to support the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA).

In view of the difficulties endured by the civilian population and in an effort to support the Malian government’s efforts to bring about the transition to democracy, a number of development programmes in Mali may also be resumed as soon as possible. Some €250 million may be mobilised for this purpose. Pursuing existing programmes will, among other things, help to build civil society, strengthen food security and improve Bamako’s supply of drinking water taken from Kabala.

On 17th January, EU foreign ministers agreed a number of other concrete measures to assist the Malian authorities: the launch of the EU Training Mission to train and reorganise the Malian Armed Forces; political support for the development of a Roadmap for the restoration of democracy and constitutional order; the appointment of an EU Special Representative for the Sahel. On February 5, the EU will host in Brussels a ministerial meeting of the international Support and Follow-up Group on the situation in Mali.  

For more information:

The EU's humanitarian assistance to Mali:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/aid/sub_saharian/mali_en.htm

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/index_en.htm

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm

Contacts :

Irina Novakova (+32 2 295 75 17)

David Sharrock (+32 2 296 89 09)


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