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Help us bring food and medical care to people in northern Mali!


Our dialogue with armed groups and others in the field means we can now resume large-scale aid to people in northern Mali who are suffering the combined effects of violence and a food crisis.

The ICRC and the Mali Red Cross are about to start distributing huge quantities of food and seed, to respond to the emergency and support farmers during the coming season. The first phase of the operation, which will last for about three weeks, will involve delivering food to over 160,000 of those who are most at risk.

As well as distributing food and seed, the ICRC is supporting Gao Hospital by supplying medicines and medical supplies, fuel for the generators and water pumps and a number of personnel. In addition, we're helping community health centres to provide health care in rural areas. 

We need your support!

Your donation will help us to:

  • distribute rice, sorghum, beans, oil and salt to 160,000 people over the next three weeks;
  • deliver rice and sorghum seed to 42,000 farmers;
  • keep Gao Hospital and Assongo Health Centre open;
  • provide medicines and medical supplies for nine community health centres;
  • limit the spread of cholera (of which around 50 cases have occurred in the village of Wabaria, near Gao) by guaranteeing a supply of clean water and carrying out preventive action in conjunction with the Mali Red Cross.

In pictures – the situation in northern Mali and the ICRC’s response

Gao, Mali, March 2012. Beneficiaries of a food distribution operation.

These people had fled Ménaka for Gao. Even in March, during this distribution operation, a Mali Red Cross volunteer told us: “The food situation in Gao is disastrous. First there was no rain. Then when the rain did arrive it was very badly distributed over time. And finally the River Niger didn’t get nearly as full as usual. As a result, there’s not enough food to feed everyone in the town.”

In addition, armed violence was making it impossible to carry out any work in the communities, and forced tens of thousands of people to flee, often on donkeys, taking just what they could carry.

© ICRC / A. Mohamed

Gao, Mali, July 2012. Gao Hospital is the reference hospital for the whole of northern Mali, but the facility was looted in April 2012.

The hospital re-opened in May, thanks to support from the ICRC in the form of medicines, medical/surgical supplies, fuel for generators and water pumps, payments to the 124 health staff and the provision of additional personnel.

© ICRC / M. Douma

Gao, Mali, July 2012. Patients wait for consultations at Gao Hospital.

Many patients come from remote rural areas. In northern Mali, most community health centres outside the towns are no longer operating, either because they have been looted or because all the qualified personnel have left. Those health centres that are still open are unable to obtain medicines, as the Gao regional medical warehouse is not functioning. As well as helping Gao Hospital and the main medical centre at Assongo, the ICRC is going to resume support for nine community health centres – five between Tombouctou and Gao, and four between Gao and Kidal.

© ICRC / A. Mohamed

Gao, Mali. At the beginning of April, staff had to flee Gao Hospital because of looting and the lack of security.

There was no water and no electricity, because there was no fuel for the generator. For a few days, even the maternity unit was closed, and pregnant women died for lack of appropriate care. Now, in just one month, the hospital has held 230 gynaecological/obstetric consultations, including 93 deliveries. Health personnel have returned, and the ICRC has provided additional staff, including a midwife.

© ICRC / M. Douma

Gao, Mali, July 2012. A casualty receives emergency treatment at Gao Hospital.

Demonstrations and fighting between armed groups in Gao on 26 and 27 June left many dead or injured. The ICRC has been supporting Gao Hospital since April, and the hospital treated over 40 people with bullet wounds.

© ICRC / M. Douma

Inkismane, northern Mali, March 2012. The population of Inkismane abandoned the village at the beginning of 2012 because of fighting.

They have fled to areas that appear to be safer.

© ICRC / A. Mohamed

Ménaka, Mali, March 2012. A pile of empty cases collected after fighting between the Malian armed forces and the Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad at the beginning of 2012.

© ICRC / A. Mohamed

Ménaka, Mali, March 2012. Women and children wait for the start of an ICRC/Mali Red Cross food distribution operation.

The woman at the front is displaying the distribution card she received when she registered to receive aid.

© ICRC / A. Mohamed

Ménaka, Mali, March 2012. Two women displaced in the area of Ménaka. They were among those who benefited from the first ICRC/Mali Red Cross aid distribution operations.

These operations had to be suspended in early April 2012 because of the security situation, which forced the ICRC to temporarily scale back its presence in northern Mali.

© ICRC / A. Mohamed

Ménaka, Mali, March 2012. The temporary home of Tinnazin Inagalyer and her children, who had to flee their real home because of fighting and the security situation. Sacks of food lie outside.

“We were running in all directions,” she explains. “My six children have lost their father. Who’s going to look after them now? The people of the village helped me until the Red Cross arrived. Without them I would have been in a terrible situation. We need food, mats to sleep on, buckets … we’re grateful for everything we can get.”

© ICRC / A. Mohamed