Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - About 3.5 million people are affected by the food security and nutrition crisis in Mali, with 175,000 children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition in the West African nation and 385,000 more suffering from moderate acute malnutrition, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest situation report on Mali.
The report, tagged situation report number 4 and received by PANA here Wednesday, said the situation in northern Mali remained precarious, but that the vast majority of people affected by the food security and nutrition crisis are in the south and require urgent assistance.
Covering the period 8 to 14 May, 2012, the report said that as at 14 May, the number of Internally Displaced Persons in Mali was estimated at 146,900.
"Continuing population movements (including limited returns) complicate accurate assessments," it said.
Malian refugees arrived in neighbouring countries at a slightly higher rate this week, hitting the 161,000 mark as of 14 May.
Malian refugees have been registered in Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger.
According to a statement by the Algerian Government in March, at least 30,000 more Malian refugees are in Algeria.
Meanwhile, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, said on Tuesday that the sub-regional organization was ready to deploy troops to intervene in the political crises in both Mali and Guinea Bissau.
Ouedraogo made the remarks at the ongoing 2012 ordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament held in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
According to Ouedraogo, the crisis in Mali has also posed a threat to the region, saying that the current options for ECOWAS included a peaceful resolution of the crisis and also a possible use of force.
"A strategic plan has been drawn up, and if the ECOWAS force has to be deployed, we need a go-ahead from the UN Security Council," Ouedraogo said.
However, a high-level delegation of ECOWAS leaders, led by the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire, is seeking the speedy restoration of constitutional order in the country following the 22nd March 2012 coup that ousted President Ahmani Toumani Toure.
-0- PANA PR/VAO 16May2012