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UN says Mali worstening Sahel crisis

Dakar -

The political crisis in Mali is having a “deep impact” on the food emergency in the Sahel, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warned on Thursday.

(File image) Dioncounda Traore. Credit: Reuters

Guterres was in Burkina Faso to assess the situation with Anne C. Richard, a senior US State Department official for refugees.

High numbers of people from Mali fleeing their homes are adding to the strain. The region is struggling to cope with a poor harvest, climate change and the hot season. The refugee crisis remains significantly underfunded, Guterres said.

Since January, conflict and insecurity in Mali have driven more than 260,000 refugees into neighboring countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso.

“We are calling for a bigger commitment from the international community to support refugee needs,” Guterres said.

His agency had received less than a third of the nearly 154 million dollars it requires for the provision of shelter, clean water, proper sanitation and basic health services to refugees.

The United States has donated 365 million dollars for relief in the Sahel crisis, he said.

“We want to see (the refugees) go back home, but for that we need there to be a solution to the political crisis in Mali,” Guterres said. - Sapa-dpa

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