Food crisis looming in parts of Mali

Aug. 27, 2012 at 11:38 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Though stabilizing, conflict in northern Mali has caused a spike in staple food prices and decreased household incomes, an aid agency said.

Foreign fighters and militants loyal to al-Qaida took control over northern Mali following a military coup this year that toppled the civilian government in Bamako.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, said household incomes in northern Mali are lower than usual because of the crisis in the region.

"For rural households, market access is particularly difficult," the agency stated. "Emergency needs remain high in these areas."

Normal trade to the north was severely disrupted by early 2012 fighting though some urban markets are adequately supplied with staple foods. The price for rice is 50 percent higher than the five-year average, the agency said, but has stabilized or declined since July.

The International Criminal Court announced in July it started a preliminary investigation into possible crimes committed in Mali this year.

Members of the Economic Community of West African States have called on the United Nations to pass a resolution that would permit the use of force to settle issues in Mali, simmering since the April coup.

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