By Jemal Oumar and Raby Ould Idoumou
The suffering of northern Mali citizens is becoming worse under the domination of al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)-allied Islamist groups.
On Thursday (August 30th), UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos sought to highlight the plight of children, calling for more resources to prevent severe malnutrition.
“Children’s lives are being blighted by a nutritional crisis which we have the knowledge and capacity to address, but we lack the funds to do everything that is needed,” Amos said after a visit to Mali.
Almost 150,000 children across Mali have been treated for acute malnutrition this year, according to AFP.
Civilians’ hardships are further aggravated by dire poverty and lack of supplies in the three major cities – Gao, Kidal, and Timbuktu. This is in addition to the lack of job opportunities for young people.
Abdelkalek Cissé, a journalist residing in Gao, described the humanitarian conditions of populations as catastrophic and told Magharebia that the people were in need of urgent aid.
He confirmed that aid provided by the Algerian Red Crescent was still limited in proportion to the enormity of disaster that has befallen the Azawad people since the extremist groups took control of the city.
Cissé called upon charity organisations to intervene as soon as possible to address the deteriorating conditions which are becoming increasingly worse with the lack of even the most basic necessities of life.
Mali Actualité published a plea for help by Kidal hospital manager Moussa Ag Mohamed calling for medicines on an urgent basis and confirming that the medicines that were brought by the Algerian humanitarian convoy would suffice for just two weeks.
International and regional relief organisations have considerably cut their aid because they are not sure that such aid would reach the targeted populations, Mohamed Ag Ahmedu, a field journalist, told Magharebia.
He added that “some pro-Islamic groups’ people, especially traditional chiefs and some clerics, are the only ones who receive quantities of this food aid while those who declare their rejection of militant Islamic groups’ control are denied such aid.”
The position of relief organisations might have been the factor that made Sanad Ould Bouamama, official spokesperson of Ansar al-Din that controls Timbuktu and Kidal, describe the humanitarian situation as catastrophic and launch a strongly-worded attack against Islamic relief groups. “They are in dereliction about what Muslim brothers are suffering in Mali,” he said.
The catastrophic conditions under which Malian refugees are living today, whether inside or outside Mali, have led to the spread of cholera in recent weeks, MaliWeb cited the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as saying August 10th.
One hundred forty cholera cases were recorded in Gao and Ansongo alone, resulting in 11 deaths. Meanwhile, 360,000 people, including 148,000 in northern Mali provinces, are living on aid provided by the World Food Programme.
According to OCHA estimates issued August 10th, the number of Malian refugees who were displaced was more than 260,000 refugees in Mali’s neighbouring countries, while the number of those who fled to areas inside Mali was 174,000.
Rajel Ould Oumar, a journalist, said that humanitarian organisations’ reduction of their operations in northern Mali was due to “their fear of dealing with Ansar al-Din and other groups because they don’t have trust in such groups that have ties with AQIM”.
Moussa Hasan Idrissa, a resident of Gao, told Magharebia that these conditions have forced him to move to Bamako because he has suffered from a chronic disease for more than two months following the outbreak of crisis. He added that the situation was alarming and was increasingly deteriorating.