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Mali/Niger: people displaced by fighting flee towards Niger

03-02-2012 News Release 12/24

Geneva/Niamey (ICRC) – Almost 10,000 people from Mali and Niger have fled the fighting that has pitted the Malian army against armed groups in the Ménaka and Anderamboucane areas of northern Mali in recent days.

They have found refuge in the northern Tillabéry region of Niger, just across the border from Mali. Their living conditions are extremely difficult.

"Some have been taken in by the villagers, but because the local capacity to host people was quickly exhausted, many other displaced people had to set up makeshift camps just outside the villages," said Jürg Eglin, the head of the regional delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for Mali and Niger. "Many of these people are women or children. Their shelter is rudimentary, and they lack water and especially food."

Together with the Red Cross Society of Niger, the ICRC is preparing to give them millet, rice, oil and salt, and tarpaulins, blankets, sleeping mats, buckets, kitchen utensils and hygiene items. In addition, the ICRC today began taking steps to supply and treat water in Chinagodrar, where about two thirds of the displaced people are gathered.

The influx of displaced people will further strain the northern Tillabéry region, a desert area already identified by the Niger government as the hardest hit by this year's food crisis. In January, the ICRC distributed food to more than 30,000 people to mitigate the effects of the poor harvests. The ICRC is carrying out various aid programmes in the area, which is prone to regular food crises and was recently shaken by inter-community violence.

The ICRC is closely monitoring the humanitarian impact of the northern Mali armed violence on people in the Sahel, and the situation of the wounded and the detained on all sides.

For further information, please contact:
Germain Mwehu, ICRC Niamey, tel: +227 97 45 43 82
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 20 11 or +41 79 536 92 50