Food insecurity in Mali will only grow if national parties fail to commit to peace and stability in the country, the United Nations relief official dealing with Africa’s Sahel region warned today as he urged the international community to remain engaged with the country’s urgent humanitarian needs.
In a press release issued following his completion of a five-day visit to the country, UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Toby Lanzer, emphasized the necessity for the international community to sustain its engagement to meet the vital needs of Mali’s most vulnerable communities, whilst supporting ongoing efforts toward peace and development.
“I am inspired by the resilience of Malian communities and a vibrant civil society that strives to uphold values of tolerance and social cohesion,” Mr. Lanzer declared. “Together with the Government and development partners, we must stand by the people to address their aspirations to a dignified life, development and security.”
As Mali enters a gruelling lean season, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned that some 3.1 million Malians continue to suffer from food insecurity, of whom 410,000 require immediate assistance.
In addition, across the country the lives of an estimated 15,000 children are threatened by acute malnutrition. The situation is of particular concern in the Timbuktu region, where malnutrition rates exceed the emergency threshold, according to OCHA.
The dire humanitarian situation in the country is only further exacerbated by Mali’s ongoing political instability and insecurity.
“The insecurity that prevails in parts of the country hinders humanitarian access, precisely to some of the most vulnerable communities where it is generating new needs,” warned Mbaranga Gasarabwe, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Mali.
“Stabilization and security are essential to ensure people’s access to critical services and livelihoods,” she added. “Together with the national authorities, we are working towards this goal.”
In response to the humanitarian crisis facing Mali’s population, the UN this year launched a $377 million to address the most pressing needs throughout the country. OCHA has noted that it is the second highest appeal of the nine countries of the Sahel region but, to date, only 33 percent of its financial requirements have been met.
“The international community shall remain engaged to ensure aid agencies have the resources they need to save lives and boost self-reliance of the most vulnerable communities,” Mr. Lanzer concluded.