UNITED NATIONS, July 26 (UPI) -- The United Nations Thursday called for immediate action to avert the humanitarian crisis in Mali where insecurity, malnutrition and displacement are rampant.
"The humanitarian situation is deteriorating rapidly because of the inadequacy of the response. The situation in Mali is desperate, but not hopeless," John Ging, director of operations for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said in a release.
"There needs to be a paradigm shift in the way the humanitarian response is funded. We can avoid a disaster, but only if the opportunities for a quick scaling up of the response are not missed," he added.
More than 420,000 people have been displaced by fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels since January, with arms proliferation and political instability sending refugees into Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso where food insecurity is at its greatest on the African continent, the OCHA said.
"There appears to be a misconception that without a solution to the security and political crisis in the north of the country, little can be done to scale up the humanitarian response. In fact, 80 percent of the country's humanitarian needs are in the south, where there is relative stability," Ging told reporters in the capital of Bamako.
Health, education, water, sanitation and hygiene are the areas mostly desperately in need of funding to prevent outbreaks of cholera and other epidemics, Ging said.