February 28, 2013
Mali crisis FAQs: Guide to the war and urgent needs
UPDATED: Find answers to frequently asked questions about the conflict in Mali and how World Vision is responding to the needs of affected children and families.
This week, Mali’s interim government announced presidential elections will be held in July in an effort to restore stability to the troubled country.
Mali hit the news in January after French troops intervened to oust militants.
Here’s a quick guide to understanding a complex conflict and how it has exacerbated the humanitarian needs of children and families.
How did the current conflict arise?
For decades, the Tuareg people, who live in the north of the country, have sought independence from the rest of Mali. In March last year, officers in the Malian military staged a coup in Bamako, the capital, toppling the government.
With the government in chaos, Tuareg rebels, belonging to the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), swept through northern Mali and declared an independent state. This state, known as Azawad, includes the Tomboctou, Kidal, and Gao regions.
Why was the MNLA so successful?
In recent times, former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi cultivated close relations with the Tuareg, whom he often deployed as mercenaries. In 2011, Gadhafi used Tuareg fighters against his own people in a failed attempt to quell the popular uprising in Libya.
When Gadhafi’s regime collapsed, Tuareg fighters returned to Mali after successfully procuring military training and equipment in Libya.
How many people have been forced to flee fighting?
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates about 400,000 people have been displaced by fighting. About 160,000 have fled to the neighboring countries of Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger.
What problems are faced by those who have fled fighting?
Most displaced people suffer from lack of food, drinking water, and other basic supplies. Their livelihoods have been disrupted, and they have little or no money for necessities.
What other humanitarian concerns have arisen due to the conflict?
World Vision and U.N. observers report extensive acts of rape, torture, summary executions, and recruitment of child soldiers by rebel groups operating in northern parts of the country.
Do people have enough to eat?
Mali suffered a devastating drought in 2011, leading to severe food shortages. The overall food situation got better in the latter part of 2012 following improved rains, though circumstances remain precarious.
This fragility has been exacerbated by the current conflict. In 2013, it is estimated that more than 650,000 children under 5 will suffer from acute malnutrition.
What does World Vision have to say about the conflict?
World Vision calls on all parties involved in the conflict to ensure children are protected from violence and exploitation in the midst of the hostilities. Children recruited by armed groups should be released, and groups should desist from recruiting children in the future.
World Vision calls on all parties to guarantee safe passage for those seeking to escape conflict zones. World Vision seeks unimpeded access to reach people in need.
How does World Vision plan to respond to humanitarian needs?
World Vision plans to distribute food, kitchen utensils, soap, and other hygiene items to the displaced. World Vision also wants to resume development programs suspended because of the conflict.
There are more than 65,000 children registered in World Vision child sponsorship programs in Mali. Almost 21,000 of these are located in areas affected by fighting.
Is there enough cash to meet the needs?
No. The United Nations has appealed to governments and major donors to commit $373 million in 2013 to address chronic needs in Mali. So far, less than $3 million has been pledged. World Vision also urgently needs funding to mount an effective response.
Three ways you can help
Pray for vulnerable children and families in Mali, especially for their protection from harm and for a means to escape the violence. Pray, too, for a peaceful end to the conflict. Read our prayer points to help guide you.
Make a one-time donation to help children and families affected by conflict in Mali. Your support will help us assist the most vulnerable by providing emergency food in communities where displaced families have settled; advising families about how to keep their children safe during the conflict; and more.
Give monthly to support children affected by war and conflict. Your monthly gift will help bring assistance to those in greatest need, like trauma counseling, nutritious food, clean water, medical care, protection for children living alone, and more.