Rebel groups trap thousands in Mali


Children in Menaka, Mali desperately need food

from RUDD KONTE in Bamako, Mali
Mali Bureau
BAMAKO, (CAJ News) – ARMED groups have trapped over 140 000 people in the eastern Mali town of Menaka.

A majority of these – 80 000 – are children, who are facing malnutrition and disease.

A four-month blockade of Menaka follows a similar siege in the historic city of Timbuktu, which started in August 2023 and remains in place, although some small amount of aid is now getting through. That blockade has trapped more than 136 000 people, including nearly 74 000 children.

As the siege in Menaka drags on, supplies in the city have reached critically low levels, with government and aid groups only able to deliver a very limited amount of food, medicines and other essential items.

“Children in Menaka are trapped in a living nightmare. Unless the blockade is lifted, starvation and disease will lead to deaths,” said Siaka Ouattara, Director of Save the Children in Mali.

Ouattara said many of the affected children were unaccompanied and separated at grave risk of exploitation and abuse.

“They are unable to get the protection and support they need.”

Save the Children has appealed to the militants to allow unfettered humanitarian access to the needy populations in Menaka.

According to the Cadre Harmonisé 2024, a regional framework to identify food and nutrition insecurity in the Sahel and West Africa, over 40 000 people in Menaka are already facing emergency levels of hunger.

Over 800 people are in catastrophic levels of food insecurity, due to a combination of rising violence and climate change. The situation is set to deteriorate in June, with over 49 000 people projected to be in the catastrophe phase of food insecurity.

In 2023, a survey by the National Institute of Statistics report  showed that 19 percent of children in Menaka were experiencing either moderate acute malnutrition or severe acute malnutrition.

– CAJ News

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