Humanitarian Agencies Suspend Aid Programs In Northern Mali After Armed Groups Ransack, Loot Offices, Warehouses

After armed groups in the north of Mali “ransacked government offices, hospitals, hotels, private property as well as the offices and warehouses of aid groups” over the weekend, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) “suspended some activities in the northern and central regions of Mali,” according to a WFP spokesperson, AlertNet reports. “Tuareg-led rebels seeking to carve out an independent state in the north of Mali, and local Islamists, seized the garrison town of Gao, the ancient trading post of Timbuktu and the town of Kidal over the weekend,” the news service writes.

“More than 3.5 million people are at risk of going hungry in Mali due to drought, with the majority in the north of the country where there has been fighting since January,” according to AlertNet, which adds WFP planned on assisting 1.2 million Malians this year (Fominyen, 4/3). “All the aid agencies IRIN spoke to have had their equipment stolen and have been forced to suspend operations, in the middle of a food emergency,” the news service reports. In addition to the WFP, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Oxfam, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have been forced to put their relief efforts on hold, IRIN notes (4/3).