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 agency Oxfam appealed to the UK government to ensure that training on international humanitarian and human rights law is prioritized in its dispatch of military advisors to Mali. With reports of abuses by forces on both sides of the conflict during recent fighting Oxfam is concerned that in any subsequent military operations there will be further serious violations.
"We are concerned that as events are unfolding so rapidly, foreign military support will not sufficiently emphasise training and compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law. All military forces need to ensure the safety of civilian populations including, for example, ensuring humanitarian assistance is available for those who need it. We urge all forces to take every possible precaution to ensure that military operations do not cause further harm to already distressed civilian populations," said Philippe Conraud, Oxfam country director in Mali.
Oxfam is also calling for human rights monitors to be urgently deployed by the UN, and for the Malian authorities and international forces in Mali to report regularly to the UN Security Council on civilian casualties and human rights violations by all parties, and measures taken to address these. At the same time, no effort should be spared to give high priority to finding a peaceful and lasting political solution to achieve long term stability in Mali, as requested by the UN Security Council.
Notes to editors
For more information contact:
Ian Bray +44 7721 461339
Habibatou Gologo +223 66 75 25 53
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