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UN appeals for urgent food support for Mali

Published: 24th September 2013 08:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th September 2013 08:21 AM   |  A+A-

By IANS

The UN and its partners Monday called for immediate support for northern Mali, where three out of four households do not have enough to eat and are heavily dependent on food assistance.

An emergency food security assessment -- conducted jointly by the government of Mali, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and 15 other partners -- estimates that there are around 1.3 million vulnerable people in the region, Xinhua reported citing UN officials.

"As internally displaced people and refugees begin to return to their home communities, the limited resources will be further strained and the number of people requiring assistance is likely to increase," the agencies said in a joint press release.

They noted that the depletion of livestock in the last few months is having a serious impact on the food security and livelihoods of the agro-pastoral population.

"The combined effects of the food crisis and the security situation have left little room for recovery.

"Although the local economy is slowly recovering in the north and food security agencies are strengthening their presence, many farmers have been unable to purchase seeds and fertilizers and continue to require food assistance."

WFP requires $67 million to continue to provide vital food assistance to the most vulnerable population and to respond to the nutritional needs of children and pregnant and lactating women.

FAO needs $12 million to protect and restore the livelihoods of the most vulnerable households.

Assistance provided until the end of the year will primarily include the provision of agricultural inputs, veterinary inputs for livestock and fishing gear for 420,000 vulnerable people, enabling them to produce food as early as December 2013.

The agencies said these combined efforts will help them and the government to save lives and livelihoods by providing food assistance and agricultural productive means to the most vulnerable people in the northern regions of Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal and Mopti.

These areas were among the most affected by the fighting that broke out last year between government forces and Tuareg rebels, after which radical Islamists seized control of the northern part of the country.

The crisis uprooted hundreds of thousands of civilians and led to a dire humanitarian crisis, the officials said.

A separate food assessment is currently being carried out in the south of the country, said the officials.

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