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Malians Flee as Fighting Breaks Out

The first group of displaced Malians arrive at Plan Mali in Segou
The first group of displaced Malians arrive at Plan Mali in Segou
January 11, 2013
Plan says a swift response from the international community is needed to avert a humanitarian crisis

Scared Malians, mainly women and children, are on the move again following clashes between armed insurgents and the national army. They are fleeing towns such as Sévaré which is located 35 miles south of Konna – the town seized by armed insurgents on Friday.

“People are just fleeing Sévaré. They are leaving town using any transport available,” said Nouhoum Coulibaly director of GAAS Mali, a local partner of Plan Mali.

"Hundreds of displaced people are already arriving in Segou," said Bocoum Mamadou, Plan Mali's Program Unit Manager. Plan has a humanitarian operation in Segou which is located about 250 miles south of Sévaré.

"They are mainly children and women from Sévaré and the Mopti region. They are exhausted and stressed,” he said.

William Michelet, Plan’s Country Director, said that essential relief supplies are being positioned in Segou to help the newly displaced. However the humanitarian response is hampered by inadequate funds.

“Our resources are already stretched. We need urgent support if we are to meet the needs of the newly displaced. The cold weather is now worsening the vulnerability of the children and their families,” he said. Temperatures in Segou are currently between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit in a country that normally enjoys between 95-100 degrees during the summer.

Plan is already helping thousands of children and their families in Segou who were displaced by the conflict in early 2012. Plan is delivering several services including child protection, education, and nutrition.

On the ground, at the north-south border in Mali, a military operation is underway, with France pledging to intervene as quickly as possible to support the national army.

Plan says that the coming days will be crucial and the international community should act quickly to ensure that a major humanitarian crisis does not develop.

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