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A Mother From Mali Dreams Of Bringing Her Family Home

Dizawahet Mohamed (left) will soon give birth to her third child at a camp for refugees in Burkina Faso. She too was born a refugee. WFP/Emilia Casella

After fleeing her home in Mali, Dizawahet, 23, is about to give birth to her third child at a refugee camp in Burkina Faso. That's where she was born as well during another conflict in Mali that drove her parents across the same border. Dizawahet says she's grateful for the help families like hers receive at the camp, but that what she really wants is to go home.

MENTAO (BURKINA FASO)--Dizawahet Mohamed’s life has come full circle. She was born 23 years ago in a refugee camp in Burkina Faso, where her family had escaped a civil war that raged in Mali from 1990-1995.

Now, nine-months pregnant, she has fled conflict in her homeland and is once again living in a refugee camp, about to give birth to her third child.

Today, she stands in the hot sun waiting for relatives to help her return to her shelter with her monthly food ration from WFP – cereal, lentils, salt, vegetable oil and a highly nutritious blend of corn and soya powder. She says she’s grateful for the assistance, but what she really wants is to return home.

“We’ve always lived in difficult conditions. We are used to that. But before, we lived in freedom – that’s the most important thing. I love my country and I want to return.”

Twice a refugee

Dizawahet is part of a nomadic Tuareg community who herd their animals in traditional grazing lands about 30 km from Timbuktu in Mali.

Six months ago, the conflict in Mali prompted them to flee. Dizawahet’s husband took her and their two children across the border to the area where she was born. He then returned to Mali to care for their animals – and she has not seen or heard from him since.

Now she lives among about 16,000 Malian refugees living in five camps around the town of Mentao in Burkina Faso. In all, there are about 171,000 Malian refugees currently sheltering in Burkina Faso (47,000), Niger (50,000) and Mauritania (74,000).

And inside Mali there are a further 270,000 internally displaced people -- most of them depending on food assistance from WFP and its partners.

Crisis far from over

This month, WFP’s Executive Director Ertharin Cousin met with women at Dizawahet’s camp in Burkina Faso, as well as visiting internally displaced people inside Mali, pledging to continue the support for as long as it is needed.

“We continue to need support from the international community to ensure that we have adequate resources to meet the needs of the children and the families we are serving here, who still cannot go home,” she said.