GENEVA - The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Mali has spiked since the beginning of the year, to 3.9 million – or one in five people, UN aid coordinating agency OCHA said on Friday.

It says the number of internally displaced persons has doubled over the same period, to more than 168,000, amid growing insecurity caused by inter-communal conflict in the north and centre of the country.

Rising food insecurity is also widespread, with more than half a million people now described as severely food insecure in Mali.

To meet rising needs, humanitarians say they need $324 million.

But despite the increasing numbers of vulnerable people, the plan is only 30 per cent funded.