Mali: 4.6 Million People Face Starvation Following Islamist Advances In The North
By David Blair, The Telegraph – “War is not the only reason why at least 340,000 people have fled their homes since gunmen loyal to ‘al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’ (AQIM), along with rebels from the local Tuareg tribe, began their advance across northern Mali in January. A desperate shortage of food is also taking hold in this arid Saharan region.
More than 1.6 million people in northern Mali are in a ‘situation of severe, close to extreme, food insecurity,’ according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
This includes the great majority of the 1.3 million inhabitants of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal, the three regions which AQIM and its allies now dominate. In total, some 4.6 million people in Mali – almost a third of the entire national population – are deemed ‘food insecure’.
Mohammed Samake fled Gao last month, largely because of hunger. ‘We were starving there,’ he said. ‘Our relatives were dying. We couldn’t even sleep: we lie down, but we don’t close our eyes.’
Mr Samake, 21, now lives with his extended family in the town of Segou in central Mali, just outside the area in AQIM’s grip. About 10,000 refugees have fled to Segou since the onset of the conflict.
Tom McCormack, country director of Save the Children, speaking from the capital Bamako, said: ‘We were talking about this potential food crisis – and then the conflict came in. That has had a profound impact’.” Read more.