Nouakchott, Mauritania, 3 Jumadil Akhir 1434/13 April 2013 (MINA) –  About 70,000 Malians who have taken refuge in the desert of Mauritania need urgent help and humanitarian assistance, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported on Friday (12/4).

The medical aid agency, which is also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, said that the condition of Malian refugees in the Mbera camp was deplorable and that the “humanitarian assistance is insufficient,” MSF reported as monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).

The MSF also said the displaced Malians were suffering from a lack of basic services and food insecurity. There was also a lack of water in the camp, while temperatures rise to 50 degrees Celsius, the aid group stated, Press TV report.

A report released today by MSF entitled “Stranded in the desert” calls on aid organisations to urgently renew efforts to meet the refugees’ basic needs.

MFS emergency official Marie-Christine Ferir said children had to get a “ration rich in milk and micronutrients so as to avoid malnutrition.”

Ferir also stated that the death rate had increased among children in the camp. “It is currently above the emergency level of two deaths per 10,000 people a day. We have reached 3.2 deaths per 10,000 people a day.”

According to Ferir, 23 to 24 children die on average every day at Mbera.

The French-led war on Mali, which Paris launched on January 11, has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in the northern areas of the country and has displaced thousands of people, who now live in deplorable conditions.

Based on testimonies collected from over 100 refugees in Mbera refugee camp in Mauritania, examines the reasons for the refugees fleeing and reveals the underlying complexity of the crisis in neighbouring Mali. While the crisis could last for months or even years, the refugees face a future of isolation in the middle of the desert, totally dependent on outside assistance and humanitarian aid.

On February 27, John Ging, the director of operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said about 200,000 Malian children were not getting any education.

Amnesty International also said on February 1 that serious human rights breaches – including the killing of children – were being conducted in Mali.

MSF has been working in Mauritania since the arrival of the first refugees in early 2012, and has frequently warned of the alarming consequences to the refugees’ health as a result of the appalling living conditions in Mbera camp.

In November 2012 MSF conducted a retrospective nutritional mortality survey that revealed a critical nutrition situation, with mortality rates above the emergency threshold for children under two years old.

The medical situation has further worsened following an influx of 15,000 new refugees in the aftermath of the January 2013 joint French and Malian military intervention.

The number of consultations in MSF’s clinics in the Mbera camp has increased from 1,500 to 2,500 per week. The number of children admitted per week for severe malnutrition has more than doubled, from 42 to 106. 85 percent of the children under treatment arrived in the camp between January and February; despite the nutritional status of the new refugees being generally good when assessed on arrival in the camp. (T/P09/P03)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).

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