The Red Cross aims to deliver food to more than 160,000 people in its first large-scale initiative in northern Mali since scaling down its operations there in April due to security concerns.
The International Committee of the Red Cross launched the first phase of the food aid scheme July 14 in Gao and Timbuktu. It is set to roll out a similar operation in Kidal in coming weeks. Through these programs — which are expected to last up to three weeks — rice, semolina, beans, salt and oil will be provided to more than 160,000 people affected by the violence and food crisis in the region.
ICRC will also distribute rice and sorghum seeds to 42,000 farmers in Gao, Mopti and Timbuktu as well as buy 10,000 sick or weak livestock from 5,000 herding families to help boost their income.
The Red Cross, along with several other aid groups, suspended its food aid distributions in northern Mali when conflict between the government and Tuareg rebels heightened in the region in April. The organization has since engaged in dialogue with armed groups and other parties to the conflict that have allowed it to resume large-scale activities, according to Jean-Nicolas Marti, head of the ICRC delegation for Mali and Niger.
“We hope conditions will remain favorable so we can successfully conduct the full operation as planned,” Marti added.
UNICEF, meanwhile, will be sending 20,000 water, sanitation and hygiene kits to northern Mali as part of the agency’s efforts to prevent a cholera outbreak in the region. These supplies will be distributed by its local partners in Gao and Timbuktu to about 120,000 Malians, including 60,000 children.
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