Catholic Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, the capital of Mali, has called for immediate action by the international community to open humanitarian corridors to allow aid to be sent to refugees without food and medicines. According to the Fides news agency, Archbishop Zerbo, who is also the president of the Caritas relief organization, said "a new period of suffering is beginning for the people of Mali. We would welcome support so that we can help the increasing number of displaced and refugees. These people need food, drinking water, hygiene kits, anti-malarials and other items to cover their basic needs as the situation worsens. We are in the cold season, and it is also damp. This makes the humanitarian situation even more complicated."
Caritas reports that about 400,000 people have fled from combat in northern Mali and taken refuge in the south or in neighboring countries. "The exact numbers of displaced and refugees are difficult to ascertain because people continue to move" said Father Edmond Dembele, Secretary General of the Catholic bishops' conference of Mali. "Caritas Mali has been mobilized for some time but has limited means. Already since April 2012 it had donated several tons of cereals and medicines to the people of the north occupied by Islamists, as well as having activated to help displaced people in Bamako and other cities of the south, " said Father Dembele. "Indeed, as Mgr. Zerbo said, the already dramatic humanitarian situation has worsened in the last week with the start of the fighting. Urgent international aid is needed," said the priest.
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