ShelterBox has sent 497 disaster relief tents to bring shelter to 497 families from Mali, a country in West Africa’s Sahel region suffering from food insecurity, conflict and political instability that has forced countless civilians to flee their homes.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is calling Mali’s situation a ‘complex emergency,’ which has displaced over 435,000 people.
Food insecurity in the Sahel region has been increasing annually due to crops failing because of lack of rainfall as well as a growing locust threat. With this and the droughts in the United States and Russia, food prices have rocketed, affecting over four million Malian people.
Ongoing conflict and political instability in Mali does not help this already difficult situation.
The nomadic Tuaregs, who are considered an indigenous tribe in the region, have long called for the creation of an independent state and have risen up against the Malian government numerous times since the 1960s.
At the time of Mali’s general elections in January this year, many heavily armed Tuareg fighters arrived from Libya, where they had been fighting for Colonel Muammar Gadaffi. Many reports said they brought with them weapons from Gadaffi’s regime and began attacking towns in northern Mali.
The Tuaregs now have the Timbuktu region and other areas in the north, which has forced thousands of families to flee into neighbouring countries, including Niger.
There are also armed Islamist groups that are acting under the aegis of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) who have occupied further parts of northern Mali, causing further civil unrest.
ShelterBox has been working with the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), who has been managing a refugee camp in Niger’s Tillaberi region with over 11,000 Malian refugees.
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