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MALI – EU: food crisis. Italy to supply logistic support and trainers

The refugee emergency and food crisis are what most concern the European Union in Mali. The alarm was sounded by Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva upon her return from a mission to Bamako and Burkina Faso, one month on from her last visit.

The food crisis is the “main worry” when it comes to security in Mali, in whose northern regions it is no longer possible to farm or harvest, and whose south is burdened with the arrival of large numbers of refugees. This was the reason for Commissioner Georgieva’s appeal: “the parties involved in the crisis must ensure access to humanitarian organizations in all areas of the country”. For its part, the EU is “ready to increase” funding for humanitarian aid.

370,000 displaced

There are now 370,000 displaced persons, but the situation “could change” over the coming weeks causing “massive flows” as compared with what has been seen so far, Georgieva added, urging Niger and Mauritania to leave their borders open as Burkina Faso has done. Two days ago Brussels approved €20 million in funding for the Mali emergency, in addition to the already earmarked €50 million for the Sahel, of which 16 million for Burkina alone. But these figures, she underscored, are “based on optimistic estimates”, while “needs may grow and we are therefore prepared to increase the funding for Mali and neighbouring countries”.

Italy’s contribution

Italy has also made its contribution to resolving the Mali crisis, arranging for the dispatch of two C-130 transport planes and one 767 for en route refueling, in addition to a group of trainers (from 15 to 24) within the context of the EU training mission. The Lower House approved Italian logistical support for the Mali mission on Tuesday, in accordance with UN resolution 2085, for a period of two months, extendable to three.

Prior to the House vote, reporting to the joint parliamentary foreign and defence committees Minister Terzi pointed out Italy’s continuing commitment to the fight against terrorism as well as to the stability of the Sahel, and that it therefore could not fail to be part of the European training mission. He stressed that the crisis would “be a long one”, and that “without African and Malian forces’ full shouldering of responsibility, it is unlikely it will end”. According to Terzi, the crisis could deteriorate into conditions “worse than those in Somalia and Afghanistan”.

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