ICRC: Mali not yet out of the woods

June 28, 2013 at 11:25 AM
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BAMAKO, Mali, June 28 (UPI) -- The International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday it was working overtime to help the people of northern Mali deal with a series of compounding crises.

Regional delegate Jean-Nicola Marti said Mali's agriculture has not been productive and most of the food reserves have been exhausted.

"Farmers, stockbreeders and fishermen have been dealt a severe blow by successive food crises and droughts, and by the armed conflict that began in January 2012," he said in a statement.

The Malian government called for military support from former colonial power France to help fight militants from the north who seized territory in the wake of a 2012 coup.

The ICRC said there are nearly 24,000 people displaced by conflict who are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. The ability to address those needs, however, are hampered by widespread regional insecurity.

"If this situation continues, the resident population could become more dependent on humanitarian aid, and that would be very worrying," Marti said.

Romano Prodi, former Italian prime minister and U.N. special envoy for the North African region known as the Sahel, told the U.N. Security Council the entire region is at risk from area militants.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is one of the groups active in Mali and the greater Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert.

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