New York, US (PANA) - The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday said that Mauritania and Burkina Faso continue to receive large numbers of Malian refugees fleeing
conflict between the army and ethnic Tuareg rebels in the northern region of their country.
``Refugees tell our staff that their main fear is being caught up in the fighting and they are
also concerned about bandits who are taking advantage of the prevailing instability to loot
homes and property,'' Andrej Mahecic, UNHCR spokesperson, said in a statement from Geneva.
Mahecic said: ``Tens of thousands of people have been uprooted from their homes in Mali,
with many seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, since fresh clashes erupted in mid-January between the Malian army and the Tuareg insurgency known as Mouvement National de Liberation de l’Azawad (MNLA).
He disclosed that the Mauritanian government estimates that there are now over 31,000 Malian refugees in that country, the majority of them having arrived over the past six weeks,
adding that, ``some 1,500 people are arriving daily''.
He also said that, ``in Burkina Faso, where 19,198 refugees have already been recorded by the authorities, 500 Malians on average are crossing the border every day. The number of refugees entering Niger has subsided over the past week''.
``The overall number of people who have crossed from Mali into neighbouring countries now
stands at close to 80,000.
``Inside Mali, the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has been revised upward to
81,000, according to Government officials and humanitarian organizations operating in the
north,'' the spokesperson stated.
Mahecic said that, ``UNHCR has started to register refugees in all three countries of asylum
to enable the agency to refine the number of affected people and establish what their needs
He also said that refugees are settling along the border in the arid regions of Burkina Faso,
Mauritania and Niger, where a prolonged drought has caused acute food and water shortages in recent years.
Mahecic said: ``A coordinated relief effort includes trucking water into areas where those in need have gathered and distributing rice and other forms of food.
“We are also planning to relocate refugees to several camps that we are establishing in the
``In Mauritania, we have already transferred 8,300 particularly vulnerable men, women and
children from the border crossing in the region of Fassala further inland to a camp called
Mbera,” the UNHCR spokesperson added.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 2March2012