Safety of children fleeing Mali conflict being “compromised”
--Plan Int’l urges commitment to end suffering
With no immediate end in sight to the Malian crisis, “reports have now surfaced that safety of children fleeing the conflict in Mali has been compromised,” the children development organization, said Plan International.
The African Union Peace and Security Council, which has so far been unable to resolve the security standoff in Mali, said over the weekend that the conflict in the West African nation was one of the most serious challenges facing the continent.
In a statement released on the eve of the 19th AU summit, Plan International called on members and partners for commitment of the needed resources and funds to ease the suffering of communities and protect children-at-risk across the Sahel.
It said there were stories of rape, abuse and forced child soldiers, emphasizing the need for protection activities and programmes to be funded.
Plan International said children are easy prey during war and conflict.
“Other stories to surface will include children being exploited in the sex trade, children starving, children no longer going to school because they must work, children becoming orphans, children being forced to marry, diseases like measles and cholera claiming children by the thousands,” the Plan statement said.
The group said children were no longer going to school because they must work. Children are also becoming orphans and forced to marry, while diseases like measles and cholera are “claiming children by the thousands,” the children development group said.
Meanwhile, Plan International has disclosed that it is preparing to open two child friendly spaces in the Malian capital, Bamako and the city of Mopti, Mali to provide psycho-social support and emotional first aid to children fleeing the conflict in the North.
“To date, in the 15 weeks since the coup in Mali on March 22, Plan has budgeted around $25 million for programmes that meet the immediate needs of the children and communities affected by these crises; from those sheltering in place in Mali to refugee camps in Niger and Burkina, to the food insecure across the region. Thus far, just over $7 million has been raised,” said Plan International which was founded 70 years ago.