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Mali: Worrying plight of displaced people in Tinzawatene

08-02-2013 Operational Update No 03/13

The ordeal of many people displaced by the conflict in Mali is far from over. Although some displaced people are returning home – mostly in central Mali – many prefer to wait and see how the situation unfolds before returning.

This is particularly true of the several thousand people who have taken refuge in Tinzawatene, in the Kidal region in the far north. They have come from Kidal, Gao and even from as far afield as Ménaka, some 600 kilometres away.

"These people prefer to stay in Tinzawatene until the situation is more stable in their home areas," said Attaher Maïga, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sub-delegation in Gao.

The plight of more than 6,500 displaced people and the 400 local families who are sharing their meagre resources with them is a cause for concern.

"Those who have fled to Tinzawatene had to leave all their belongings behind," said Jean-Nicolas Marti, head of the ICRC regional delegation for Mali and Niger. "They have nothing. They are taking shelter under trees, in deserted houses and even in the shells of abandoned vehicles. More worryingly still, they do not have enough to eat. Pregnant women, children and the elderly are most at risk."

In this arid region, these people are also in dire need of water. "Women and children cannot even cross the border any longer in search of food and water," said Attaher Maïga.

Relief efforts by the ICRC and the Mali Red Cross are getting under way. Food and other essentials will be distributed and measures will be taken to improve their water supply.

The ICRC and the Mali Red Cross will continue to monitor the situation closely, particularly in the Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu regions, in order to adapt their humanitarian action to the needs of the people affected by the conflict, especially those of displaced people.

For further information, please contact:
Simon Schorno, ICRC Bamako, tel: +223 75 99 55 67
Valery Mbaoh Nana, ICRC Niamey, tel: +227 97 45 43 82 or +223 76 99 63 75
Wolde-Gabriel Saugeron, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 31 49 or +41 79 244 64 05