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Washington, DC -- Refugees International (RI) is disturbed by the meager international response to the recent influx of Malian refugees into neighboring countries. In a report released today, Malian Refugees: Underfunded Response Adds Stress to Sahel Food Crisis, RI reveals that aid providers are struggling to provide even the most basic assistance. It also warns that changes in population and climate could deepen regional food insecurity in the coming years, making future crises unavoidable.
Despite ongoing appeals, donor countries have only given 13 percent of the funds required to assist hundreds of thousands of displaced Malians, many of whom have sought refuge in neighboring Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mauritania. This dramatic shortfall is being felt on the ground.
“Aid agencies are trying to make sure that refugees have access to the basics: food, water, health, and shelter. But resources are being stretched thin and the challenges will only increase with the arrival of the rainy season,” Mark Yarnell, an RI advocate who traveled to Burkina Faso and Niger last month.
The areas where refugees are clustered are among the world’s poorest and have been hard hit by a food and nutrition crisis that has affected 18 million people across the Sahel. The recent influx of conflict refugees from Mali is compounding the situation. “The Sahel’s extreme poverty and booming population have long meant food scarcity,” said Alice Thomas, RI’s Climate Displacement Program Manager. “Climate change and environmental degradation are adding even more stress. Going forward, humanitarian emergencies will become more and more frequent if the underlying problems are not addressed.”
RI found that aid agencies’ attempts to reverse this trend by building the resiliency of vulnerable populations to climate variability are not occurring on a scale or within the timeframes necessary to overcome countervailing pressures. “This region has simply not been a priority for Western donors, and it shows.” Ms. Thomas added. “Talking about resilience won’t prevent future starvation and displacement. Only a much deeper, longer-term financial commitment to the Sahel can do that.”
Refugees International is a non-profit organization that advocates for life-saving protection for displaced and stateless people worldwide and accepts no government or UN funding. For more information, visit www.refugeesinternational.org.