50 000 flee rebel attacks in Mali

2012-02-08 22:33

Geneva - Aid organisations have raised the estimated numbers of refugees in Mali, where thousands of civilians have left their homes in fear of attacks by Tuareg rebels.

The Red Cross said on Thursday in Geneva that at least 30 000 have been displaced inside the country since fighting broke out in mid-January.

More than 20 000 people have fled the country to Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Wednesday.

On Monday, human rights organisations had talked of 16 000 refugees who had left Mali.

"People are fleeing the violence in large numbers, in great haste, and in utter destitution," said Juerg Eglin, the head of Red Cross operations in Niger and Mali.

The organisation has been trying to provide shelter, food and water to refugees and said the situation was worst in northern Mali.

Tuareg rebels seeking to establish an independent state in the north of the country have intensified attacks against government forces in recent weeks. Many returned from Libya last year where they had fought with forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

Read more on:    unhcr  |  mali  |  west africa
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