News24

Over 25 000 flee Mali fighting to Niger

2012-02-23 19:06

Niamey - Tens of thousands of Malians have crossed the border to Niger to flee fighting between the army and Tuareg rebels, the United Nations said Thursday.

"More than 25 000 people have arrived in Niger since the violence began in mid-January in North Mali," said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The refugees are mostly concentrated in west Niger's Tillaberi region, said the UN, adding that efforts were ongoing to move them to sites equipped with essential facilities such as sanitation.

On Monday, Burkina Faso's authorities said the country has taken in more than 12 000 refugees from Mali.

Tuareg rebels, boosted by the return of some who had been fighting for late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, launched attacks on several northern towns in Mali last month as part of their campaign for autonomy.

Amnesty International has described the situation as "the worst human rights crisis in northern Mali for 20 years".