Mali deploys army after 6 die from malnutrition in ‘village siege’

Insecurity in the restive Mopti region has led to a “state of siege” in villages
Mali deploys army after 6 die from malnutrition in 'village siege'

The Malian army will urgently deliver food and medical supplies to a region in central Mali, the prime minister said Wednesday, following the deaths of six people from malnutrition after their village was cut off by militias.

Insecurity in the restive Mopti region has led to a “state of siege” in villages, officials said.

“We are left to ourselves. NGOs and other partners can not come without an escort because Mondoro is surrounded by terrorists. They have put mines on our roads,” said Sidi Ongoiba, a resident of Tiguila village.

Prime Minister Boubou Cisse on Wednesday said the Malian army had been mobilised to deliver food, nutritional products and medicine in Mondoro, a town in the Mopti region.

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“Urgent action is underway,” Cisse said.

The health ministry in a statement highlighted a deteriorating security situation, “with the almost permanent presence of armed groups, mined access roads and a state of siege imposed” on villages.

Health Minister Michel Sidibe is expected to visit on Thursday, according to an official source.

Officials recorded six deaths from malnutrition in the village of Tiguila, according to Mondoro deputy mayor Abdoul Ongoiba.

The health ministry confirmed the assessment.

“This is the second time that malnutrition has been reported in our commune. This year, we have 100 cases of malnutrition in 25 villages,” Ongoiba said.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned this month that food insecurity was severe in the Mopti region, with tens of thousands of people fleeing violence.

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Cisse earlier this month completed a five-day tour of central Mali and vowed to beef up security with thousands of extra personnel.

Despite military help from France and the United Nations, Mali’s government has struggled to calm violence that began in the north of the country in 2012, sparked by radical Islamist and Tuareg militias.

Ethnic violence in central Mali surged after a predominantly Fulani jihadist group led by preacher Amadou Koufa emerged in 2015.

They recruit mainly from among the Fulani — primarily cattle breeders and traders — and they have clashed with the Dogon and Bambara — farmers who have formed their own self-defence militias.

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