Posts tagged mali

Malian Refugees Find Safety, Health Risks in Mauritania Camp

Malian refugees began arriving in Mauritania in February 2012; today, almost 70,000 people are living in Mbera camp alone. There, they are far from the conflict, but living conditions are difficult and many children are becoming malnourished.

Though the camp is far from the conflict, living conditions here are precarious. Since the start of the year, the number of malnourished children has more than doubled.

Close to 170,000 refugees now live in the countries bordering Mali. They hear the stories of the continuing violence back in Mali. They will not return home any time soon.

Photo: A herd of goats being driven out into the savannah to graze on the edge of the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania. Mauritania 2013 © Nyani Quarmyne
Stranded in the Desert
The majority of the refugees in Mbera camp are pastoralists who lived nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyles in Mali. Dependent on their livestock for a living, many of them fled with their cattles. However, 55% of the refugees interviewed left family members at home to tend to the livestock.

Photo: A herd of goats being driven out into the savannah to graze on the edge of the Mbera camp for Malian refugees in Mauritania. Mauritania 2013 © Nyani Quarmyne

Stranded in the Desert

The majority of the refugees in Mbera camp are pastoralists who lived nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyles in Mali. Dependent on their livestock for a living, many of them fled with their cattles. However, 55% of the refugees interviewed left family members at home to tend to the livestock.

Stranded in the DesertRead this full report on the living conditions of refugees.
Since the start of the conflict in Mali in January 2012, hundreds of thousands of people have fled to other locations inside the country or to neighboring countries. More than 270,000 people have been displaced within Mali, according to the United Nations, while more than 170,000 refugees have fled to neighboringBurkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger. Mauritania hosts the highest number of refugees, with some 68,000 people registered by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in camps in Mauritania.
Due to the ethnic and political background of this refugee crisis, there is little prospect of the refugees returning to Mali in the near future. The challenge for aid agencies will be to put in place long-term plans that will bring living conditions in the camps up to acceptable humanitarian standards.

Stranded in the Desert
Read this full report on the living conditions of refugees.


Since the start of the conflict in Mali in January 2012, hundreds of thousands of people have fled to other locations inside the country or to neighboring countries. More than 270,000 people have been displaced within Mali, according to the United Nations, while more than 170,000 refugees have fled to neighboringBurkina FasoMauritania, and Niger. Mauritania hosts the highest number of refugees, with some 68,000 people registered by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in camps in Mauritania.

Due to the ethnic and political background of this refugee crisis, there is little prospect of the refugees returning to Mali in the near future. The challenge for aid agencies will be to put in place long-term plans that will bring living conditions in the camps up to acceptable humanitarian standards.

Photo: Members of a refugee family in a makeshift tent at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees. Mauritania © Nyani Quarmyne
Stranded in the Desert
Since the start of the conflict in Mali in January 2012, hundreds of thousands of people have fled to other locations inside the country or to neighboring countries. More than 270,000 people have been displaced within Mali, according to the United Nations, while more than 170,000 refugees have fled to neighboringBurkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger. Mauritania hosts the highest number of refugees, with some 68,000 people registered by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in camps in Mauritania.
The camps in Mauritania are located in a remote, arid region close to the border with Mali. The refugees rely completely on outside assistance and humanitarian aid for their survival, including such basic needs as food, water, shelter, and medical care.

Photo: Members of a refugee family in a makeshift tent at the Mbera camp for Malian refugees. Mauritania © Nyani Quarmyne

Stranded in the Desert

Since the start of the conflict in Mali in January 2012, hundreds of thousands of people have fled to other locations inside the country or to neighboring countries. More than 270,000 people have been displaced within Mali, according to the United Nations, while more than 170,000 refugees have fled to neighboringBurkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger. Mauritania hosts the highest number of refugees, with some 68,000 people registered by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in camps in Mauritania.

The camps in Mauritania are located in a remote, arid region close to the border with Mali. The refugees rely completely on outside assistance and humanitarian aid for their survival, including such basic needs as food, water, shelter, and medical care.

 Photo: Houmou Ag Amamili arrived in the Mbera camp on November 14, 2013. As of March 11 he still had not received a tent in which to live. Mauritania 2013 © Nyani Quarmyne
Conflict in Mali has driven nearly 70,000 refugees to Mbera camp in the Mauritanian desert, where appalling conditions and inadequate assistance are leading to severe malnutrition and deaths from preventable diseases.
"These statistics show that the refugees have grown weaker while in the camp, the very place where they should have been receiving assistance, including correctly formulated food rations from aid organizations," said Henry Gray, MSF emergency coordinator.

 Photo: Houmou Ag Amamili arrived in the Mbera camp on November 14, 2013. As of March 11 he still had not received a tent in which to live. Mauritania 2013 © Nyani Quarmyne

Conflict in Mali has driven nearly 70,000 refugees to Mbera camp in the Mauritanian desert, where appalling conditions and inadequate assistance are leading to severe malnutrition and deaths from preventable diseases.

"These statistics show that the refugees have grown weaker while in the camp, the very place where they should have been receiving assistance, including correctly formulated food rations from aid organizations," said Henry Gray, MSF emergency coordinator.

Photo: An MSF staff member tends to a patient in northern Mali. Mali 2013 © Gonzalo Wancha/Filmalia.
Fear and Need Still Pervasive in Northern Mali
Despite some appearances of relative calm in Mali in recent weeks, the emergency is not yet over for the vast majority of the population in the country’s northern reaches. MSF has been supporting medical facilities in two of three regions in northern Mali since April 2012 to ensure access to free medical care for the vulnerable, but ongoing insecurity is still limiting the teams’ ability to carry out activities in rural areas. Meanwhile, hundreds of refugees continue to cross the border into Mauritania every day.
“Due to the insecurity,” says Rosa Crestani, MSF emergency program coordinator, “we cannot assess the needs of those living outside the urban areas in which we are working.” “We fear that some patients remain trapped at home,” she continues. “It is difficult for these people to access food, and the risk of malnutrition is significant. The people must not be the target of violence and must be able to safely access the vital medical and humanitarian aid they need.”

Photo: An MSF staff member tends to a patient in northern Mali. Mali 2013 © Gonzalo Wancha/Filmalia.

Fear and Need Still Pervasive in Northern Mali

Despite some appearances of relative calm in Mali in recent weeks, the emergency is not yet over for the vast majority of the population in the country’s northern reaches. MSF has been supporting medical facilities in two of three regions in northern Mali since April 2012 to ensure access to free medical care for the vulnerable, but ongoing insecurity is still limiting the teams’ ability to carry out activities in rural areas. Meanwhile, hundreds of refugees continue to cross the border into Mauritania every day.

“Due to the insecurity,” says Rosa Crestani, MSF emergency program coordinator, “we cannot assess the needs of those living outside the urban areas in which we are working.” “We fear that some patients remain trapped at home,” she continues. “It is difficult for these people to access food, and the risk of malnutrition is significant. The people must not be the target of violence and must be able to safely access the vital medical and humanitarian aid they need.”

Bringing Much-Needed Medical Care to Timbuktu, Mali

Liberian project coordinator Toe Jackson describes how his MSF team brought much-needed medical care to conflict-ridden Timbuktu, Mali.

Treating Those Caught In Mali’s Armed Conflict

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams have remained in northern Mali throughout the recent crisis in order provide medical care to the local population. MSF has treated 35 wounded patients in Timbuktu over the past few weeks and is running programs in Mauritania, Niger, and Burkina Faso to assist those fleeing the conflict.

Photo: Malian refugees fleeing conflict in Mali arrive at the border in Fassala, Mauritania. Mauritania 2012 © Lynsey Addario/VII
Desperate Conditions in Camps Causing Disease Among Malian Refugees
Conflict in northern Mali is still forcing large numbers of people to flee their homeland and seek sanctuary elsewhere in the countries of the Sahel region, but the conditions in the camps where they are living are themselves leading to disease and suffering.According to UNHCR, approximately 150,000 Malian refugees are living in camps in Burkina Faso (Ferrerio, Dibissi, Ngatourou-niénié, and Gandafabou camps), Mauritania (Mbera camp), and Niger (Abala, Mangaize, and Ayorou camps). Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been working in these eight camps since March 2012, providing primary and maternal health care and treating malnutrition. MSF is also vaccinating children between six months and fifteen years old for measles. Nearly 12,000 consultations and 5,000 vaccinations have been carried out since the beginning of the year.
Nearly 67,000 refugees—mainly women and children—have arrived in the border town of Fassala, Mauritania, since January 2012. “At the border crossing at Fassala, Mauritania, people are arriving thirsty and showing signs of fatigue,” explains Karl Nawezi, MSF project manager in Mauritania. After being registered by the authorities, refugees wait in a transit camp before being transferred to Mbera, a small, isolated village in the Mauritanian desert, just 30 kilometers [about 19 miles] from the Mali border.

Photo: Malian refugees fleeing conflict in Mali arrive at the border in Fassala, Mauritania. Mauritania 2012 © Lynsey Addario/VII

Desperate Conditions in Camps Causing Disease Among Malian Refugees

Conflict in northern Mali is still forcing large numbers of people to flee their homeland and seek sanctuary elsewhere in the countries of the Sahel region, but the conditions in the camps where they are living are themselves leading to disease and suffering.

According to UNHCR, approximately 150,000 Malian refugees are living in camps in Burkina Faso (Ferrerio, Dibissi, Ngatourou-niénié, and Gandafabou camps), Mauritania (Mbera camp), and Niger (Abala, Mangaize, and Ayorou camps). Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been working in these eight camps since March 2012, providing primary and maternal health care and treating malnutrition. MSF is also vaccinating children between six months and fifteen years old for measles. Nearly 12,000 consultations and 5,000 vaccinations have been carried out since the beginning of the year.

Nearly 67,000 refugees—mainly women and children—have arrived in the border town of Fassala, Mauritania, since January 2012. “At the border crossing at Fassala, Mauritania, people are arriving thirsty and showing signs of fatigue,” explains Karl Nawezi, MSF project manager in Mauritania. After being registered by the authorities, refugees wait in a transit camp before being transferred to Mbera, a small, isolated village in the Mauritanian desert, just 30 kilometers [about 19 miles] from the Mali border.

MSF in Mali: “We Will Not Abandon Our Patients Now”
In the town of Gao, in conflict-riven northern Mali, an average of 120 patients make their way to the MSF Wabaria and Sossokoira health centers each day. Even though the rainy season is over, 70 percent come with malaria, a potentially fatal parasitic disease that leaves sufferers exhausted from high fevers and uncontrollable shivers. Despite the war, it is malaria that the MSF medical teams in the region are battling most fiercely. It remains the leading cause of death in the country, and it is particularly dangerous for children under the age of five.
“Although there is a hospital and 10 health centers in and around Gao town, this is for a population of 400,000, and we realized that some people still had no access to medical care. Our patients tell us that all they hope for is peace. And we are with them; we stayed here throughout the air strikes, we will not abandon our patients now. We hope that the health system will develop and eventually replace us. But until then, we will stay and ensure that the people of Gao and Ansongo continue to have access to quality and free health care,” says Dr. Jose Bafoa, MSF’s medical team leader in Gao. 

MSF in Mali: “We Will Not Abandon Our Patients Now”

In the town of Gao, in conflict-riven northern Mali, an average of 120 patients make their way to the MSF Wabaria and Sossokoira health centers each day. Even though the rainy season is over, 70 percent come with malaria, a potentially fatal parasitic disease that leaves sufferers exhausted from high fevers and uncontrollable shivers. Despite the war, it is malaria that the MSF medical teams in the region are battling most fiercely. It remains the leading cause of death in the country, and it is particularly dangerous for children under the age of five.

“Although there is a hospital and 10 health centers in and around Gao town, this is for a population of 400,000, and we realized that some people still had no access to medical care. Our patients tell us that all they hope for is peace. And we are with them; we stayed here throughout the air strikes, we will not abandon our patients now. We hope that the health system will develop and eventually replace us. But until then, we will stay and ensure that the people of Gao and Ansongo continue to have access to quality and free health care,” says Dr. Jose Bafoa, MSF’s medical team leader in Gao. 

After Two Weeks of Fighting, MSF Continues to Work in Nothern Mali
Two weeks after military operations began in northern Mali, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to work in the regions of Mopti, Gao, and Timbuktu. In addition, on the morning of January 24, a small MSF medical team managed to reach Konna, a town located 70 kilometers north of Mopti, in the pivotal area between Mali’s northern and southern sectors, where there has been intense fighting over the past week. Furthermore, nearly 6,000 new Malian refugees were registered in Mauritania, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
Questions of Access
A four-person MSF medical team composed of two doctors and two nurses left Mopti early on January 24 and managed to reach Konna later that morning. For the last several days MSF unsuccessfully sought authorization to enter the town.Now that access has been permitted, the team is assessing the medical and humanitarian needs in the area. They also visited the Konna health center, finding upon their arrival that there were no medical staff members or patients in the town’s health care facilities. MSF team members therefore began providing primary health care consultations and organized mobile clinics to address the health needs of people in the area. In the coming days, as the assessments continue, MSF will be able to provide additional support to the Konna health center.

After Two Weeks of Fighting, MSF Continues to Work in Nothern Mali

Two weeks after military operations began in northern Mali, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to work in the regions of Mopti, Gao, and Timbuktu. In addition, on the morning of January 24, a small MSF medical team managed to reach Konna, a town located 70 kilometers north of Mopti, in the pivotal area between Mali’s northern and southern sectors, where there has been intense fighting over the past week. Furthermore, nearly 6,000 new Malian refugees were registered in Mauritania, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

Questions of Access

A four-person MSF medical team composed of two doctors and two nurses left Mopti early on January 24 and managed to reach Konna later that morning. For the last several days MSF unsuccessfully sought authorization to enter the town.

Now that access has been permitted, the team is assessing the medical and humanitarian needs in the area. They also visited the Konna health center, finding upon their arrival that there were no medical staff members or patients in the town’s health care facilities. MSF team members therefore began providing primary health care consultations and organized mobile clinics to address the health needs of people in the area. In the coming days, as the assessments continue, MSF will be able to provide additional support to the Konna health center.

Mali: MSF Calls for Access to Konna
As bombings and combat continue in multiple locations in Mali, MSF calls on all parties to the conflict to authorize humanitarian organizations to enter the area of Konna and to allow aid to be provided in all areas affected by fighting.
MSF has been in contact with Mali’s civilian and military authorities since January 14, as well as with the French army and government, in an effort to obtain authorization to send medical teams to Konna. To date, access roads to this town in central Mali remain closed by the Malian army.
“Despite our repeated requests, the authorities continue to refuse to grant us access to the area of Konna,” said Malik Allaouna, MSF operations director. “It is critical that neutral, impartial medical and humanitarian aid be allowed into the areas affected by fighting. We call on all parties to the conflict to respect both the civilian populations and the work of humanitarian organizations.”

Mali: MSF Calls for Access to Konna

As bombings and combat continue in multiple locations in Mali, MSF calls on all parties to the conflict to authorize humanitarian organizations to enter the area of Konna and to allow aid to be provided in all areas affected by fighting.

MSF has been in contact with Mali’s civilian and military authorities since January 14, as well as with the French army and government, in an effort to obtain authorization to send medical teams to Konna. To date, access roads to this town in central Mali remain closed by the Malian army.

“Despite our repeated requests, the authorities continue to refuse to grant us access to the area of Konna,” said Malik Allaouna, MSF operations director. “It is critical that neutral, impartial medical and humanitarian aid be allowed into the areas affected by fighting. We call on all parties to the conflict to respect both the civilian populations and the work of humanitarian organizations.”

Photo: From left, the towns of Lere, Konna, and Douentza, where armed conflict is hampering the provision of medical aid. 2013 © Google
MSF Calls for Respect of Civilians in Northern Mali
All parties to the conflict in Mali must avoid harming civilians and health structures, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced today. Civilians have been affected by armed conflict over the last few days in Konna and by bombardments in Lere and Douentza, a town in the northeast of Mali’s Mopti region. An MSF medical team is supporting medical activities in a hospital in Douentza. “Because of the bombardments and fighting, nobody is moving in the streets of Douentza and patients are not making it through to the hospital,” said Rosa Crestani, MSF emergency response coordinator. “We are worried about the people living close to the combat zones, and we call on all the parties to the conflict to respect the safety of civilians and to leave medical facilities untouched.”

Photo: From left, the towns of Lere, Konna, and Douentza, where armed conflict is hampering the provision of medical aid. 2013 © Google

MSF Calls for Respect of Civilians in Northern Mali

All parties to the conflict in Mali must avoid harming civilians and health structures, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced today. Civilians have been affected by armed conflict over the last few days in Konna and by bombardments in Lere and Douentza, a town in the northeast of Mali’s Mopti region. An MSF medical team is supporting medical activities in a hospital in Douentza. “Because of the bombardments and fighting, nobody is moving in the streets of Douentza and patients are not making it through to the hospital,” said Rosa Crestani, MSF emergency response coordinator. “We are worried about the people living close to the combat zones, and we call on all the parties to the conflict to respect the safety of civilians and to leave medical facilities untouched.”

Photo: Mussa, a migrant from Mali who desperately wants to get to Europe, returns to his camp in the northwest of Morocco after his second failed attempt to cross into Spanish territory. Morocco 2012 © Anna Surinyach
Migrants In Morocco Stuck At A Dead End
They arrive breathless and defeated, drenched by sweat intermingled with the rain and covered with mud. They have run up Gourougou Mountain and some now limp. It was another unsuccessful attempt to get over the fence separating them from Melilla, an autonomous Spanish city on the northwestern coast of Morocco. Now it’s back to the small clutch of trees which serves as “home” for the time being.
In the nieghboring Moroccan city of Nador, in the pretty pine-covered hills and lowland forest of Gourougou, some several hundred African migrants are living in makeshift camps, awaiting the opportunity to enter Europe.
Stuck in the Alawite country, unable to move or return to their own countries, and unable to work in Morocco, they suffer constant harassment, even violence, from the Moroccan security forces trying to prevent them from jumping the fence into Spanish territory and making their way across the Straight of Gibraltar to Europe. Spain’s Guardia Civil is also involved in the harassment and expels migrants to the border with Algeria.
Morocco has become a dead end for these migrants, African men and women who look to Europe because it has to be better than what they have left behind. And better than what they are living through right now. But they do not give up.
“We’d been waiting all night in the rain, next to the fence, waiting for the chance,” said one migrant named Mussa, shivering in the November cold. “But it wasn’t until the morning that it came. It wasn’t possible, no one got over. There were more than a hundred of us. The soldiers got me on the head with a stone. About 20 got their feet caught in the barbed wire on the fence. We had to leave them there, they were getting hit.”

Photo: Mussa, a migrant from Mali who desperately wants to get to Europe, returns to his camp in the northwest of Morocco after his second failed attempt to cross into Spanish territory. Morocco 2012 © Anna Surinyach

Migrants In Morocco Stuck At A Dead End

They arrive breathless and defeated, drenched by sweat intermingled with the rain and covered with mud. They have run up Gourougou Mountain and some now limp. It was another unsuccessful attempt to get over the fence separating them from Melilla, an autonomous Spanish city on the northwestern coast of Morocco. Now it’s back to the small clutch of trees which serves as “home” for the time being.

In the nieghboring Moroccan city of Nador, in the pretty pine-covered hills and lowland forest of Gourougou, some several hundred African migrants are living in makeshift camps, awaiting the opportunity to enter Europe.

Stuck in the Alawite country, unable to move or return to their own countries, and unable to work in Morocco, they suffer constant harassment, even violence, from the Moroccan security forces trying to prevent them from jumping the fence into Spanish territory and making their way across the Straight of Gibraltar to Europe. Spain’s Guardia Civil is also involved in the harassment and expels migrants to the border with Algeria.

Morocco has become a dead end for these migrants, African men and women who look to Europe because it has to be better than what they have left behind. And better than what they are living through right now. But they do not give up.

“We’d been waiting all night in the rain, next to the fence, waiting for the chance,” said one migrant named Mussa, shivering in the November cold. “But it wasn’t until the morning that it came. It wasn’t possible, no one got over. There were more than a hundred of us. The soldiers got me on the head with a stone. About 20 got their feet caught in the barbed wire on the fence. We had to leave them there, they were getting hit.”

Photo: Vaccines in Mali 2012 © Venetia Dearden/VII
Fatal NeglectVaccines: A Preventable Fate
Twenty percent of all the babies born in the world each year—the equivalent of nearly five times the children born yearly in the United States—are not getting the basic vaccines they need to be protected from killer diseases, such as measles.
And that’s why Venetia Dearden traveled to West African nation of Mali with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to see firsthand the importance of vaccines to families and the lengths to which they must go to get them. When MSF teams stage vaccination campaigns in the West African nation of Mali, mothers will come from hours away, sometimes days away.
In the best-case scenario, MSF and other agencies would bring the vaccines to them, wherever they lived, in whatever conditions. But this isn’t possible at present, because many of the vaccines available today are not tailored for the difficult environments in which they must be used. To give but one example: establishing and sustaining cold chain is very difficult in places where electricity is hard to come by, to say nothing of ice. That’s why MSF has been advocating for a global approach to vaccine development and dissemination that takes into account the conditions in the countries where these vaccines are most needed to half preventable deaths, as well as the particular strains of diseases found in various locations.

Photo: Vaccines in Mali 2012 © Venetia Dearden/VII

Fatal Neglect
Vaccines: A Preventable Fate

Twenty percent of all the babies born in the world each year—the equivalent of nearly five times the children born yearly in the United States—are not getting the basic vaccines they need to be protected from killer diseases, such as measles.

And that’s why Venetia Dearden traveled to West African nation of Mali with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to see firsthand the importance of vaccines to families and the lengths to which they must go to get them. When MSF teams stage vaccination campaigns in the West African nation of Mali, mothers will come from hours away, sometimes days away.

In the best-case scenario, MSF and other agencies would bring the vaccines to them, wherever they lived, in whatever conditions. But this isn’t possible at present, because many of the vaccines available today are not tailored for the difficult environments in which they must be used. To give but one example: establishing and sustaining cold chain is very difficult in places where electricity is hard to come by, to say nothing of ice. That’s why MSF has been advocating for a global approach to vaccine development and dissemination that takes into account the conditions in the countries where these vaccines are most needed to half preventable deaths, as well as the particular strains of diseases found in various locations.