A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
International leaders are meeting in Brussels tomorrow to discuss the Mali crisis and organize support. Ask them to send UN human rights monitors to Mali now:Tweet #MaliNow
Working with partners, we are launching a targeted twitter action from 2pm GMT today, calling for the urgent deployment of UN human rights monitors to Mali, ahead of an EU-hosted international meeting on Mali tomorrow.
Following a rapid escalation of fighting in Mali, the United Nations Security Council and donors urgently need to fund and ensure deployment of monitors through the UN system.
Add your voice to the call by tweeting @UN urging rapid deployment of monitors now, using the #MaliNow hashtag.
— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) February 4, 2013
What are we calling for?
Military intervention in Mali was scaled up very quickly in January 2013. It is essential that UN human rights monitors are quickly deployed in order to address human rights abuses by all actors. The UN Security Council and donors urgently need to fund and ensure deployment of monitors through the UN system.
Despite clear calls for rapid deployment of monitors from the African Union's Peace and Security Council, the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council and strong human rights and International Humanitarian Law language in the UN Security Council resolution authorizing an African-led international force, there is still not sustained UN human rights capacity on the ground.
UN human rights monitors should be deployed in sufficient number and able to reach conflict-affected zones, especially in areas of military operations where information is more limited. Their presence will help to deter abuses and ensure accountability. Operating separately from independent monitors deployed through the UN, it is also important that all forces active in Mali include relevant legal advisors to ensure compliance with humanitarian and human rights law - including the Malian, AFISMA and French forces.
What's happening in Mali now?
Over 230,000 people are now displaced within Mali and over 150,000 refugees have gone to in Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso. Civilians continue to flee the military offensive. From 11-30 January alone nearly 18,000 people fled the country.
The UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has voiced concerns about reprisals:
“While the liberation of towns once under the control of the rebel and extremist groups has brought hope to the populations of northern Mali, I am deeply concerned at the risk of reprisal attacks against ethnic Tuareg and Arab civilians.”
Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have published information on reprisals in recent days.
In areas of northern Mali the price of food and fuel is rocketing as supplies start to dry up after looting following recent military operations, and with traders who have fled the area failing to return amid growing numbers of reports of reprisal attacks.
According to recent assessments by Oxfam, food prices have risen by nearly 20 per cent since foreign military intervention in Mali in January.
Safe access is an urgent priority for humanitarian agencies, as well as for the commercial traffic which is so essential to the supply of food and other basic items.
See the photos: Mali refugee crisis hits Sahel
Read the report: Mali’s Conflict Refugees: Responding to a growing crisis - Oxfam analysis of how to better meet the needs of refugees & build a better future for Mali//