More than 8,000 internally displaced children in a humanitarian emergency situation in Gao
UNICEF and its partners are mobilizing to fight malnutrition and preserve children’s rights.
42 degrees. The air is hot and the wind blows little at this time of year. Sina Walet Musa, 25, walks slowly with Abdrahamane, her 12-month-old child in her arms. Her look is worried, she goes for a consultation at the mobile clinic in the Bawa internally displaced persons site, about ten kilometers from the city center of Gao, in the northeast of Mali.
It has been a year since Sina found refuge in this camp which accommodates more than 3,000 internally displaced people. Nearly 500 of them are school-age children. Previously, she lived with her family in Tessit, 160 km further south. Fearing for their lives, pregnant Sina and her family fled this area which was plagued by multiple attacks by armed groups.
Abdrahamane was born in Bawa. The child is in fragile health. His mother cannot afford to see him at the city center health center. The weekly presence of the mobile clinic in the camp is a real relief for her and more than 400 families who live in the camp.
At the time of the consultation, the nurse from the mobile clinic explains to Sina that Abdrahamane's health problems are due to malnutrition.
“He needs to eat better if you don’t want him to get sick so often. You must feed him at least 3 times a day. I know it’s difficult but also try to vary your meals. Don’t just give him rice and milk.” Advises Salamata Mahamado, nurse from one of Gao's mobile clinics deployed on the Bawa site.
“We have lost everything since we fled Tessit. Here we have nothing. It is thanks to UNICEF and WFP that we have water and a little food. I don't know where to find money to buy food. My heart hurts that I can’t feed my baby properly,” says Sina. When they hastily left their home because of conflicts and threats, Sina and her husband had to abandon their activities and found themselves without a source of income, like most of the displaced people in Bawa.
Thanks to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), UNICEF and its partners can offer these displaced families holistic support covering the prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition as well as primary health care through the mobile clinic system. By regularly visiting displaced people's sites, these mobile clinics equipped with equipment and staffed by nurses and midwives can provide basic care to families who have no other solution.
This holistic support also includes access to water and sanitation through the provision of latrines and drinking water points. Internally displaced children who have often experienced trauma can also benefit from psychological support in Child Friendly Spaces and continue their schooling in Temporary Learning Spaces.
As of August 30, 2023, due to the crisis and security threats, Mali has 375,539 internally displaced people, more than half of whom are children in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.