ICRC: Crisis in Mali Worsens

Posted March 16th, 2012 at 1:15 pm (UTC-5)
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The International Committee of the Red Cross warns conditions are growing worse in northern Mali, where tens of thousands of civilians are trying to escape fighting between the army and Tuareg rebels.

The ICRC Friday said about 72,000 people have been displaced by the violence and called the situation precarious.

The head of the ICRC's regional delegation said many of the refugees need care as soon as possible. Officials say the situation is further complicated by the fact that many of the refugees have headed to areas that are ill-suited for a major influx of people, making simple survival a challenge.

Workers with the ICRC and the Mali Red Cross were set to start distributing food and other basic supplies to people in the Gao region. Supplies have also been sent to tens of thousands of displaced people in the Kidal and Tombouctou regions.

Campaigning is underway in Mali ahead of the country's April 29 presidential election. About 20 candidates are vying to take over from incumbent president Amadou Toumani Toure, who is stepping aside after two terms in office.

A leading opposition candidate, former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar, has rejected fears the violence in northern Mali could disrupt the process.