OTTAWA — Amidst the escalating violence and with all eyes focused on the current security crisis in Mali, CARE International staff in the trouble-torn region of the country is distributing food to families in desperate need of help. CARE is planning to expand its response in the coming days, to provide people with essentials like tarps, blankets, sleeping mats, soap, and kitchen utensils. But more funding and access is urgently required to reach everyone in need.
CARE has been distributing food packages in partnership with the World Food Programme, including rice, pulses, vegetable oil, and fortified cereal; it aims to reach 21,000 people in the region of Mopti, one of the areas affected by the fighting. Starting on Friday, CARE also plans to distribute more than 2,000 family kits that include emergency supplies. This is in addition to direct food and nutrition assistance from CARE throughout the ongoing food crisis in the country.
“Although there has been a lot of focus on the current security crisis in Mali, it is important to remember and think about those who are the most affected, especially women, girls and boys, trapped in a vulnerable and distressing situation. People are afraid. They have been hiding in their homes, without water, food, or any connection with the outside world, with their own families and friends. Thousands of people are on the move, and there have even been cases of unaccompanied children arriving in urban areas,” said Claudine Mensah Awute, Country Director for CARE Mali.
“Despite the challenges and the volatile circumstances, CARE has been successful in scaling up its response in Mopti and providing urgently needed aid to thousands of vulnerable people affected by the conflict,” said Awute. “However, there is an urgent need to expand humanitarian access. There are still areas that are cut off from aid. We are calling on all parties to establish a humanitarian corridor immediately so we can reach these people who are waiting for help.”
Nearly half a million people have fled their homes since the conflict began last year, some of them taking refuge in neighbouring countries and others sheltering with friends and families in Mali. The numbers continue to rise. More than 5,000 people have been displaced in the past two weeks alone. This new crisis comes on top of severe food shortages and the conflict last year, from which people have still not recovered.
“There were huge funding gaps last year for Mali and for the entire Sahel region, and this year, despite all eyes being on Mali, barely 1% of the funding needs for 2013 have been met for the current crisis. The humanitarian community cannot respond if the funds are not there. Without funding, people will be without food, without their basic needs being met. This is unacceptable,” said Awute.
“We must not turn our backs on Mali,” says Kevin McCort, President and CEO CARE Canada. “CARE calls upon the international community to step up its humanitarian response and not lose sight of the plight of those most affected and vulnerable. Canadians are encouraged to donate to CARE in support of the relief efforts.” Canadians wishing to support the humanitarian response in Mali can visit www.care.ca or call 1-800-267-5232.
CARE currently has two Canadians working on emergency and development projects in Mali: Jane Iredale, Assistant Country Director from Winnipeg and Alain Lapierre, Regional Emergency Coordinator, from Aylmer, Québec.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Director, Communications and Marketing, CARE Canada
Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading international humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. In over 80 countries, CARE works with the poorest communities to improve basic health and education, enhance rural livelihoods and food security, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity, help vulnerable people adapt to climate change and provide lifesaving assistance during emergencies. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls living in poverty because, equipped with the proper resources, women and girls have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. To learn more, visit: www.care.ca.