Latest developments: French forces have continued to advance towards the north of Mali with militant fighters reportedly withdrawing from the central Malian town of Diabaly after waves of French air strikes have forced them to flee. Ultimately, the military intervention is to prevent the Islamists from reaching the South. However, reports say the fundamentalists were hiding in forests around the towns, where there was said to be "some sympathy" for them. There are concerns that Islamist reinforcements were being dispatched to support them and they may return. The state of emergency announced by the President on 11 January has reduce people's liberty - movements, assemblies, demonstrations - but it has allowed WaterAid and partners to carry out our work in the areas under occupation. The Malian and French armed forces have put in place security measures in the country, with the public buildings, embassies, French school and French cultural centre in the capital of Bamako being kept under close surveillance. Humanitarian and WASH dimensions: The humanitarian and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) situation remains serious in Mali with a population of internally displaced people estimated at about 198,558 and more than 200,000 refugees in neighbouring countries. Access to these vulnerable populations in parts of the country remains a challenge. The health situation is deteriorating, with the spread of malaria especially in the region of Timbuktu. Other reports indicate the increasing difficulty of access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation. Internally displaced people in Bamako are increasingly requesting support from mosques. The north and south are facing soaring prices of essential commodities. The deteriorated security, hygiene, health, housing and food conditions over the several months in the north are likely to become worse with the increasing number of internally displaced persons. Most of those in host families are facing increasing challenges including accommodation issues resulting in some families quiting in search of more permanent houses. Impact on the work of WaterAid Mali According to people on the ground and local newspapers: Water quality in zones under control has deteriorated. There is lack of drugs to treat patients. Some humanitarian organisations with which WaterAid is partnering continue to provide assistance to the populations that remain in Timbuktu, Gao and Mopti as well as displaced ones. Support is largely focused on the distribution of kits and products for water purification. WaterAid Mali will: Intensify policy influencing work with parliament, technical and financial partners, etc. to include water and sanitation needs. Mobilise resources to support delivery of water, sanitation and hygiene provision in emergency situations. Work with organisations having expertise on WASH delivery in emergencies.