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WFP Distributes Food To People Uprooted By Recent Upsurge In Violence In Northern Mali

BAMAKO – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has begun distributing food assistance to some 29,000 people displaced by recent violence in northern Mali. WFP provided 13 metric tons of high energy cereal bars on Saturday and has now begun distributing a one-month food ration.

Around 31,000 people have been forced to flee over the past two weeks, mostly from the Timbuktu region, following an escalation of attacks by armed groups. More than 500 people have crossed the border into neighbouring Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso over the past few days.

The newly displaced in the Timbuktu region are finding refuge in the towns of Tonka, Goundam and Gourma Rharous in the north of Mali, staying in temporary shelters, camping, or with host families. They are in urgent need of water, food, other relief items and shelter.

“The fighting in the north of Mali is greatly reducing an already limited humanitarian space and hampers vital humanitarian assistance to people who are very vulnerable. Both river and road transport are being severely affected by fighting, disrupting deliveries of food assistance by WFP and our partners,” said Sally Haydock, WFP Mali Country Director.

“The current state of affairs is only adding to an already difficult situation as over 3 million people struggle to have enough food to eat, and host communities brace themselves to face a harsh lean season,” she added.

A national food security and nutrition survey earlier this year found that 410,000 people were in need of immediate food assistance. The number is likely to get higher as food stocks decrease during the lean season before the new harvest comes in. WFP plans to assist at least 350,000 people from June through September.

“If the situation continues to deteriorate, we expect more people to be in need of life-saving food assistance,” said Haydock. “To date, less than half of WFP’s funding needs are met.  WFP urgently requires an additional US$64 million to continue meeting growing needs.”

In 2015, WFP overall aims to support 1.2 million people in Mali—providing emergency relief and additional support for communities emerging from crisis.

In Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, WFP also plans to provide food assistance to the newly arriving Malian refugees.

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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 75 countries.

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For more information please contact (email address:
Maude Berset, WFP/Mali, Mob. +223 76 71 26 29
Adel Sarkozi, WFP West Africa/Dakar: +221 776375964
Elisabeth Byrs, WFP/Geneva: +41 79 473 4570
Frances Kennedy, WFP/Rome: +39 0665133725
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-5566909, Mob.  +1-646-8241112
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel.  +44 20 72409001, Mob.  +44 7968 008474