masabahouse (masabahouse) wrote,

SAHEL: Aid efforts under strain as refugees numbers mount

DAKAR/OUAGADOUGOU, 4 May 2012 (IRIN) - Sahelian governments and local and international aid groups are struggling to cope with both the continual arrivals of people fleeing the regions of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal in northern Mali, and the mounting number of hungry people across the region as the lean season gets underway.

Altogether some 284,000 Malians have fled the north according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 107,000 of them thought to be displaced within Mali; 177,000 in neighbouring countries. New arrivals have pushed refugee numbers to 56,664 in Burkina Faso and to 61,000 in Mauritania, and to 39,388 in Niger, according to UNHCR. These governments are already struggling to get aid to millions of their inhabitants, who are facing hunger due to drought. Fleeing Malians have told the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) they want to avoid getting caught up in possible conflict if government soldiers or foreign troops intervene in the north.

The UN estimates that 16 million people across the Sahel are facing hunger this year, and hunger levels are rising as the lean season gets fully underway. Families across the Sahel are also experiencing a significant loss of income as hundreds of thousands of Mauritanians, Burkinabes and Malians fled conflict in Libya, bringing a halt to the remittances they regularly sent.

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