The European Union may increase its humanitarian support to Mali, where renewed fighting between the government and Islamist rebels has wreaked havoc and prompted many residents to flee their homes — something aid agencies predicted weeks ago.
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton announced the regional block is looking into boosting emergency relief to the West African country after emerging from a meeting with officials from EU member states Tuesday (Jan. 15). EU foreign ministers are set to meet on Thursday (Jan. 17) to discuss a “package of actions” for the Malian government and its people.
“We are looking at ways we can support President Traore and his government to put the country back on the proper democratic and constitutional path,” Ashton said in a statement.
Aid groups caution that ongoing clashes in Mali will exacerbate the dire humanitarian situation on the ground. When French troops supporting the Malian army launched air strikes over the weekend, more than 30,000 people fled their homes, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
A number of donors suspended aid to Mali after a coup attempt failed in March. Among them was the European Union, which, for the period 2008-2013, had pledged $593 million ($773.67 million) in development assistance. EU humanitarian relief to Mali was not part of the suspension.
EU humanitarian aid to Mali “is going to continue, even in difficult conditions,” Ashton said Tuesday.
An EU diplomat with knowledge of Tuesday’s meeting, who was not named by Reuters, said development aid is also “expected to be resumed.”
Oxfam, meanwhile, called on the Mali government and France to ”regularly report” on civilian casualties and human rights abuses to the U.N. Security Council. All forces should ensure their actions would not “jeopardize the ability of humanitarian actors to provide assistance or the ability of civilians to receive it,” Oxfam Country Director in Mali Michael Quinn said Tuesday.
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