International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Update on Mali and the IRC’s emergency response

The International Rescue Committee is launching an emergency response in the West African country of Mali, where the drought spreading across the Sahel region has been compounded by political instability.

Mali continues to face upheaval and worsening drought conditions. This week the coup leaders promised to hold elections within 40 days and as a result the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has lifted its sanctions, allowing fuel and funds to flow back into the country. Although the head of the National Assembly, Mr. Dioncounda Traoré, was sworn in as interim President last week, Captain Amadou Sanogo, the leader of the military forces that led the coup d'état, has reasserted his intent to maintain a role in the envisaged transition government. With neighboring ECOWAS states monitoring the situation closely — and the population in Bamako demonstrating over the rebel takeover in the north — the situation in Mali is mercurial.
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the predominantly Taureg rebel group, has cemented its control of the new partition across the mid-section of the country in the last week, leaving the rest of the rural north open to an uneven power vacuum where the Al Qaeda-aligned Ansar Dine, and to a lesser degree the Nigerian based Boko Haram militants, have established their presence and raised their black flags. 
With the government of Mali focused on internal power dynamics and unable to serve more than half of the country, new humanitarian aid programs are welcomed — especially as many international aid organizations continue to leave the country. 
The IRC Emergency Response Team is in Mali, assessing humanitarian needs in both rebel-controlled areas in the north, and in areas afflicted by severe drought in the government-controlled south. In the north our response will focus on clean water and sanitation services for displaced Malians and host communities affected by drought, conflict and cholera.  In the south, which has been hit exceptionally hard by the drought and hunger crisis plaguing the entire Sahel, the team will lead an inter-agency effort to assess nutrition needs and the needs of displaced children.

Crisis in Mali

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