BRUSSELS, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The European Commission said Tuesday it was responding to "a triple crisis" in Mali with more than $29 million in humanitarian assistance.
Kristalina Georgieva, European commissioner for crisis response, said Tuesday her top priority was to ensure Mali can respond to crises compounded by a multilateral military response to militancy.
"In Mali, the most vulnerable have been hit by a triple crisis over the past year: first a drought that led to a major food and nutrition crisis in 2012, then political instability and conflict," she said in a statement.
Mali last month called for military support from former colonial power France to help fight foreign and Islamic militants pushing their way south toward Bamako. Control over northern Mali was lost to foreign rebels and Islamic militants in a 2012 coup.
"We mustn't forget that apart from the 167,000 Malians who have taken refuge in neighboring countries and 227,000 more who have fled the fighting in the north there are a million people affected by the crisis in the north in urgent need of food assistance," Georgieva said.
Britain this week announced it was sending around 40 troops to Mali to help with a military training mission supported by the European Union.
The U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, along with the French government, estimate it may cost around $11 million to restore cultural heritage sites in Mali destroyed during the conflict.