Persistent insecurity in central and northern Mali has left over 287,000 people displaced.1 In addition, 718,000 children aged 6 to 59 months are suffering from acute malnutrition;2 1.2 million children require protection; and 1.4 million children need education support.3 The humanitarian crisis in Mali has been exacerbated by the effects of climate change and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which has devastated the economy and exacerbated household vulnerabilities.
In 2021, UNICEF will deliver life-saving humanitarian response; support the continuity of services to protect the most vulnerable children from the impacts of COVID-19; build children's resilience; and strengthen the linkages between humanitarian action and development and peacebuilding programmes.
UNICEF requests US$108.3 million to assist 2.1 million people, including 1.6 million children, in Mali. Thirty-seven per cent of these funds will support the COVID-19 response; and 19 per cent will support cash transfers for 100,000 households to address the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
Over the past 9 years, armed groups and community violence in the central and northern regions of Mali have led to overlapping socio-political, economic and security crises that have disrupted the country's economic and social development and generated a protracted emergency. Following a military coup d'état in 2020, the country entered into an 18-month transitional government.
Mali currently ranks 184 out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index. Nearly 44 per cent of households in Mali live below the poverty line;9 and gender inequalities are deeply rooted.10 The COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impacts have exacerbated these challenges, undermining economic growth,11 exacerbating gender-based violence risks, and further weakening a health system that was already struggling to cope with epidemics. In central and northern Mali, 45 per cent of children are not fully immunized against vaccinepreventable diseases.12 Persistent insecurity in the central and northern regions is giving rise to human rights violations, particularly grave violations against children. Children in these regions are victims of recruitment and use by armed groups, killing, maiming and gender-based violence. Across the country, 1.2 million children need protection assistance.13
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, school closures interrupted the education of 3.8 million children.14 At the same time, attacks on education infrastructure and personnel in the central and northern regions have affected 378,000 children.15 Between 2018 and 2020, the number of internally displaced persons in Mali more than doubled, increasing from nearly 110,000 to over 287,000.8 Fifty-eight per cent of displaced people are women and girls and 54 per cent are children.16 In the northern and central regions, more than 96 per cent of internally displaced persons live in areas where access to water is below the national average of 69 per cent.17 Mali has one of the highest mortality rates due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in Africa.18 The nutrition situation in the central and northern regions is also worrisome. Global acute malnutrition prevalence exceeds 10 per cent in a number of areas. More than 188,000 children under 5 years are suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) across the country.
Humanitarian access remains a serious challenge in hard-to-reach areas and areas affected by seasonal flooding. Between January and July 2020, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance increased by 58 per cent, from 4.3 million to 6.8 million, including 3.5 million children and 245,000 children with disabilities.20