Fatoumata with her grand-daughters in Gao after having fled from their home in Menaka. WFP / Daouda Guirou
Fighting in northern Mali has forced tens of thousands to flee their homes. While some people have fled across borders into neighboring countries, others have had to move to other parts of the country.
Most of the internally displaced people are living in difficult conditions and are in real need of help. “My grand-daughters and I eat only once a day,” said Fatoumata, who fled from Menaka with her two grand-daughters to the Gao region in north eastern Mali. After ten days of wandering in unsafe areas of Menaka, her son managed to cover their transport costs to bring them to Gao.
Many IDPs are hosted by relatives or acquaintances, who are poor and food insecure themselves and already affected by the current drought.
In early March, WFP's Deputy Executive Director Ramiro Lopes da Silva led a team of representatives from UN agencies, national authorities and NGO partners to Gao to assess the needs of IDPs and vulnerable host families.The initial assessments found that host families are struggling to support the IDPs and that their needs in food, water, sanitation, healthcare and shelter are urgent.
WFP has expanded the coverage of its emergency operation to provide food assistance to 120,000 vulnerable IDPs. The emergency operation will be implemented in Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal through blanket feeding to prevent acute malnutrition among children aged 6 months to 5 years old and targeted food distribution to vulnerable IDPs.
“Given the landlocked situation of Mali, the timeliness of the response is crucial to averting a full-blown food and nutrition crisis. WFP appeals to the humanitarian community to address the underlying structural causes of food insecurity and malnutrition to build resilience to crises in the longer term” said WFP Mali Country Director Nancy Walters.