May 31, 2013
Mali crisis: Guide to the war and the needs of children
UPDATED: Find answers to frequently asked questions about the crisis in Mali and how World Vision is responding to the needs of affected children and families.
Mali has been mired in conflict since March 2012. Here’s a quick guide to understanding this complex situation, its impact on West Africa’s existing food crisis, and World Vision’s response to humanitarian needs of children and families.
How did the current conflict arise?
For decades, the Tuareg people in northern Mali have sought independence from the rest of the country. In March 2012, officers in the Malian military staged a coup in Bamako, the capital, and toppled the government.
With the government in chaos, Tuareg rebels, belonging to the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), swept through northern Mali and declared an independent state. This state, known as Azawad, includes the Tomboctou, Kidal, and Gao regions.
Why was the MNLA so successful?
Former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi cultivated close relations with the Tuareg, whom he often deployed as mercenaries. In 2011, Gadhafi used Tuareg fighters against his own people in a failed attempt to quell the popular uprising in Libya.
When Gadhafi’s regime collapsed, Tuareg fighters returned to Mali after successfully procuring military training and equipment in Libya.
How many people have been forced to flee fighting?
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates about 475,000 people have been displaced by fighting. Of these, nearly 175,000 have fled to the neighboring countries of Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger.
What problems are faced by those who have fled fighting?
Most displaced people suffer from lack of food, drinking water, and other basic supplies. Their livelihoods have been disrupted, and they have little or no money for necessities.
What other humanitarian concerns have arisen due to the conflict?
World Vision and U.N. observers reported extensive acts of rape, torture, summary executions, and recruitment of child soldiers by rebel groups operating in northern parts of the country.
Do people have enough to eat?
Mali and other Sahel countries suffered a devastating drought in 2011, leading to severe food shortages. The overall food situation is somewhat better, thanks to improved rains in 2012, though circumstances remain precarious.
The conflict and lingering instability exacerbate this fragility. Nearly 700,000 children in Mali are at risk of malnutrition. The UN estimates a total of 5 million children under 5 and pregnant mothers across the Sahel region remain severely undernourished.
How has the international community responded to the conflict?
Since ousting militants in January and February, France and Chad plan to send their troops home and allow a 12,600-strong U.N. peacekeeping contingent to take over this summer.
Mali’s interim government has promised elections will be held in late July. International donors pledged more than $4 billion to help Mali stabilize.
How is World Vision responding to humanitarian needs?
World Vision is distributing food, kitchen utensils, soap, and other hygiene items to the displaced families. We also have resumed development programs that were suspended because of the conflict.
More than 65,000 children are registered in World Vision child sponsorship programs in Mali. Almost 21,000 of these are located in areas affected by fighting.
How much money is needed to adequately respond?
World Vision needs $15 million in donations to provide 150,000 people with emergency food aid, shelter, access to safe drinking water and improved hygiene facilities, and household necessities for six months.
Funding will also help families re-establish their livelihoods and malnourished children and pregnant moms quickly receive the nutrition they need.
Three ways you can help
Pray for vulnerable children and families in Mali, especially for their protection from harm and for a means to escape the violence. Pray, too, for a peaceful end to the conflict.
Make a one-time donation to help children and families affected by conflict in Mali. Your support will help us assist the most vulnerable by providing emergency food in communities where displaced families have settled; advising families about how to keep their children safe during the conflict; and more.
Give monthly to support children affected by war and conflict. Your monthly gift will help bring assistance to those in greatest need, like trauma counseling, nutritious food, clean water, medical care, protection for children living alone, and more.