UN World Food Programme

Violence triggers new displacements and new humanitarian needs in Northern Mali

Alkarinatou Wallet Alhamdou, a widow and mother of two, is among those who fled to the nearby region of Gao in northern Mali when violence erupted in May of 2014.

Recent clashes between armed groups and the Malian military have forced more than 4,000 people to flee their homes in the Kidal region of northern Mali.

BAMAKO - Alkarinatou Wallet Alhamdou, a widow and mother of two, is among those who fled to the nearby region of Gao when violence erupted. 

She will always remember the 21st of May, 2014. “I was at home when I suddenly heard gunshots” she said. As the sound of gunfire came closer, Alkarinatou ran inside with her two children to hide.

Many hours later, when the shots could only be heard in the distance, she stepped outside to see if the danger had passed. In her yard, she found bullet shells on the ground. The sound of gunfire had been replaced by sobbing from nearby houses and the cries of her own frightened children.

Alkarinatou knew she had to get out. She rushed back to her house and grabbed the only thing she had of value: her only pair of earrings, which she had hidden under an old clay jar. She left quickly with her two children to find the next public transport out of the area, which turned out to be a semi-trailer.

For the second time since the outbreak of violence in the North of Mali in 2012, Alkarinatou was fleeing her hometown of Kidal.

The 450 km journey from Kidal to Gao was incredibly difficult for Alkarinatou and her two children of 11- and 13-years old. The family of three arrived in Gao exhausted from the 47-degree heat, hot wind and blowing dust. And, they were hungry.

WFP: Responding to urgent need

WFP has been providing emergency assistance to vulnerable people in the regions of Gao and Kidal since early 2013.

With the approach of the lean season, WFP had already planned to increase food distributions in the region – but, with the increased need arising from recent clashes, it has further increased its distributions to accommodate for people displaced by conflict.

Working with Gao state Civil Protection, the Danish Refugee Council and other partners, WFP has provided rations to thousands of people like Alkarinatou and her family.

This new wave of displaced people is putting additional pressure on the already-meagre resources of northern communities. According to a March 2014 assessment, 26 percent of people in this area are already living in food insecurity. As the lean season approaches, this number is expected to increase to 32 percent of the population.

Lean season will cause added strain

“The continuing volatile security situation in the North of Mali combined with the start of the lean season could worsen food insecurity and the malnutrition situation” said Sally Haydock, WFP’s Representative in Mali. “We are scaling up our operations to reach 1.3 million conflict-affected people at the height of the lean season” she added.

WFP-Mali’s Emergency Operation, which provides food and nutritional support to the most vulnerable and conflict-affected people in Mali’s North, is facing a significant funding shortfall. At just one-third funded, WFP was forced to make the difficult choice to cut food rations in order to reach as many people as possible.

Thanks to generous contributions from donors, as of June, WFP has been able to raise rations back to normal levels in time for the lean season. However, at just one-third funded, without further funding for WFP’s emergency operation in Mali, this situation will not be sustainable for long.

Thanks to all our donors

  • The top five donors to WFP’s emergency operation in Mali for 2014 are:
  • The United States
  • Japan
  • The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO)
  • The United Kingdom
  • Canada