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U.N. Agencies Appeal For Additional Assistance For Food, Health And Education In Mali

“A top United Nations relief official who just returned from a trip to northern Mali said Tuesday that desperation, hunger and fear had pervaded the region in the year since Islamist militant extremists seized control, and that only $17 million of the organization’s appeal for $373 million in emergency aid had been donated so far,” the New York Times reports. “John Ging, the operations director of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said some conditions had begun to improve in northern Mali since a French-led military operation began last month,” but he added people “are traumatized by the past year,” the newspaper writes. “At least 585,000 people, he said, ‘are in need of immediate food assistance,'” according to the newspaper (Gladstone, 2/26). “In addition to disrupting the lives of those who fled, this has left health clinics short of doctors, schools without teachers and electricity plants without engineers, he said,” the U.N. News Centre reports (2/26).

In related news, “UNICEF said Tuesday it urgently needs $45 million (34.4 million euros) to help children in conflict-stricken Mali, where the threat of violence and trafficking has spiraled, compounding a long-running food crisis,” Agence France-Presse/GlobalPost reports. “UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado told reporters the money was needed to address basic needs such as health care, nutrition, education and protection over the next three months,” the news agency writes, adding, “In Mali alone, an estimated 660,000 children under the age of five are expected to face malnutrition this year, according to UNICEF” (2/26).