By Maria Mutya Frio, Communications Manager, World Vision West Africa
|Displaced Malians were taken in by other families, |
straining an already dwindling food supply. Credit: WVI
And as it stands, about a million children are still highly vulnerable to food insecurity. UNICEF estimates that at least a quarter of all children in Mali under the age of five suffers from malnutrition. No child should ever have to lose his or her life over a disease that is preventable and treatable. One life lost is one too many.
The cycle will go on. The Sahel region has been hit three times in the last seven years by food and nutrition crises primarily due to a “resilience deficit.” Communities lack the capacity and the structures not only to bounce back from chronic hunger caused by low agricultural production and armed conflict, rather they lack the ability to address the structural causes and adopt strategies to withstand shocks.
Children caught in armed conflict need to be protected. We’ve all heard the stories about children being abducted as child brides who were raped or young boys enlisted at rebel camps. Amnesty International’s initial assessment of human rights violations indicated evidence of child soldiers: “These children were carrying rifles. One of them was so small that his rifle was sometimes dragging on the ground.”
The education of 700,000 children had been affected and 200,000 are still denied access according to UNICEF. That’s boys and girls in various levels whose schooling were disrupted due to the conflict, and are still fearful to go back or with no educational system to go back to. At least 115 schools in the north were closed, destroyed and looted, some of which indicated the presence of unexploded ordinances. Many teachers have not yet returned to work. This has overcrowded schools in the south with the influx of newly displaced children from the north.
As the narrative on Mali fades in the public eye, let’s not forget that our engagement is not over yet. Now more than ever that the Malian people need humanitarian assistance that will hopefully, eventually transition into recovery and further development, with a hope and a prayer that peace and security be restored once again.
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