Conflict forces aid group out of northern Mali

Fearing for the safety of its aid workers, Médecins du Monde, a global group of volunteer health professionals, has pulled out and temporarily suspended its activities in conflict-torn northern Mali. 

Northern Mali has been relatively peaceful until January, when the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad launched new offensives in the area. The group consists of Tuareg nomads living mostly in northern Mali, southern Algeria and northern Niger. The Tuaregs in Mali have staged previous rebellions against the country’s government, which they accused of marginalizing their group.

BBC says conflict in northern Malia is escalating. There are dozens of casualties on both sides and more than 20,000 people have fled to neighboring countries. Médecins du Monde noted the conflict has made it hard for staff members to safely and effectively carry out their activities.

“The population is leaving so it is very difficult for us to reach them, so we decided to suspended temporarily the activities to deliver primary health care, medicine and sometimes food,” Pierre Verdeeren, the group’s director general, told BBC.

The Tuareg rebellion is exacerbating an already worsening food crisis in Mali. Poor rainfall in 2011 resulted in low crop yield, which is threatening food security in the country. While Mali has received pledges and donations of rice and money, the offensives might prevent timely distribution of aid, the Guardian reports.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.