80000 Children Trapped In Mali

80000 Children Trapped In Mali

80000 Children Trapped In Mali


OpenLife Nigeria reports that armed groups have trapped more than 140,000 people, including over 80,000 children, in the town of Menaka in Mali, where they are facing malnutrition and disease, following a similar blockade of the city of Timbuktu, Save the Children said.

A four-month blockade of Menaka by armed groups follows a similar siege in the historic city of Timbuktu, which started in August 2023 and remains in place, although some small amount of aid is now getting through.

As the siege in Menaka drags on, supplies in the city have reached critically low levels, with government and aid groups only able to deliver a very limited amount of food, medicines, and other essential items.

Over 80,000 children are trapped in Menaka, nearly a third of whom (33,600) have already fled fighting in other parts of the country and are staying in temporary shelters in camps and with host families.

Save the Children staff who recently had a rare chance to get into the town to carry out a week-long needs assessment were trapped there for three weeks, the aid group said.

Safiatou, 55, fled fighting in her village to come to Menaka and is now caregiver to six unaccompanied children. She said:

“We came to Menaka after fleeing four months of terror in our village. We have no business or income – we lost everything. It’s the little helpers that keep us going. Some households are struggling just to have one meal a day.

“Our children are suffering from this chaotic situation, and we do not have what we need to provide for them.”

According to the Cadre Harmonisé 2024 – a regional framework to identify food and nutrition insecurity in the Sahel and West Africa – over 40,000 people in Menaka are already facing emergency levels of hunger, and over 800 people in catastrophic levels of food insecurity, due to a combination of rising violence and climate change.

The situation is set to deteriorate in June, with over 49,000 people projected to be in the catastrophe phase of food insecurity – and needing immediate support to meet their basic needs.

Without aid arriving to these communities, there is the potential for total collapse of livelihoods and large-scale deaths in coming months, said Save the Children. Last year – before the siege began – a survey by the National Institute of Statistics report (INSTAT) showed that 19% of children in Menaka were experiencing either moderate acute malnutrition or severe acute malnutrition.

The blockade follows the siege of Timbuktu which began in August, trapping more than 136,000 people including nearly 74,000 children in the historic city and leading to a humanitarian catastrophe.

While the blockade remains in place, some aid and supplies have been allowed to enter the city in recent months.

Siaka Ouattara, Country Director of Save the Children in Mali, said:

“Children in Menaka are trapped in a living nightmare. Let us be clear: unless the blockade is lifted , starvation and disease will led to deaths.

“A third of these children fled to Menaka thinking it was a safe refuge from violence back home. Many of these children are unaccompanied and separated – at grave risk of exploitation and abuse. They are unable to get the protection and support they need.

“We call on all actors to allow unfettered humanitarian access to populations in Ménaka who are in dire need of assistance.”

Save the Children has been working in Mali for over 35 years, with a presence in six regions. Save the Children has carried out a rapid multi-sectoral assessment in the town of Menaka and hopes to deliver aid to Safiatou* and others as soon as the blockade ends, and aid delivery is possible.

Source: Save the Children


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