Over 3 million suffer from hunger in Mali as insecurity persists in African nation's north

Mali officials and the United Nations say more than 3 million people are suffering from hunger as insecurity persists in the country's north.

U.N. humanitarian coordinator Mbaranga Gasarabwe said Wednesday that food insecurity also means more than 715,000 children are malnourished.

Mali is a landlocked country in Africa's dry Sahel region. Social Development adviser Moussa Ouattara said armed conflict in the north weakens the economy, threatens civilians and exposes them to hunger.

Mali's humanitarian affairs minister, Hamadoun Konate, has called for a halt to fighting so humanitarian programs can continue.

Fighting broke out last weekend for three days between pro-government militia groups and Tuareg separatists despite a peace accord signed in June.