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Aid reaches Malian refugees in Niger

May 2012: Plan is providing vital aid to thousands of Malian refugees who have fled violence in their country only to find themselves caught up in West Africa's food crisis.

200,000 refugees have so far left Mali, with 30,000 heading to Niger - a country where more than 6 million people are already at risk of hunger.

Malnourished children

Every day, refugees who have walked for up to 15 days arrive in Gaoudel, a small village just 5km from the Malian border. All of the children are malnourished, and many have illnesses such as whooping cough.

Azahara and her young family have only a sheet for shelter.

"The government couldn't protect us anymore. The bandits came with guns and stole many of our things, so we ran away. I left with nothing because I had to help my children," she says.

Plan support

Azahara and her family are now among 15,000 Malian refugees who are receiving emergency food, blankets and mosquito nets from Plan in Niger.

In addition to providing vital support to villagers suffering from the food crisis, Plan has also furnished the village school with extra blackboards, seating mats and teaching guides to accommodate greater numbers.

Teacher Adouramane Oumarou says one entire class is now made up of 117 refugee children, who have never been to school before.

Read about and donate to Plan's West Africa food crisis appeal

Find out more about Plan's work in Niger