New Mali refugees flee to Niger

2013-04-05 15:27

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Geneva - Thousands of refugees from war-torn Mali have crossed into neighbouring Niger amid fears of reprisals by the country's military who are battling Islamist fighters, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.

Almost 6 000 people, mainly women and children, arrived on foot or on donkeys, said Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

"They say they fled because of the ongoing war in northern Mali, and for fear of possible reprisals by the Malian army. They also said that more people are on their way to Niger," Edwards told reporters.

The refugees began arriving on March 28 near the communities of Mentes and Midal in a remote desert area in the north of the west African country.

"We haven't had refugees coming across at this point before," Edwards said.

"Reception conditions are very precarious. The only available water -which contains clay - is drawn from pools. No health facilities are available. We are planning to relocate these refugees to Midal where we can better assist them and where there is a functioning well," he added.

Mali imploded following a coup in March 2012 by soldiers who blamed the government for the army's humiliation at the hands of Tuareg rebels, who had launched an uprising in the north two months earlier.

Al-Qaeda-linked fighters hijacked the Tuareg rebellion and took control of the northern half of the country.

French forces launched a surprise intervention in January in a bid to stop Islamist forces from moving southward and threatening the capital Bamako.

The Islamists have now largely been driven out of the main cities in the north and are waging a guerrilla war against French, Malian and other troops seeking to help the government assert its control over the entire territory.

There have been repeated reports of retaliatory attacks against ethnic groups suspected of sympathising with the rebels.

There are an estimated 175 076 Malian refugees in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger, including 37 530 people who have fled since January, according to United Nations figures.

Read more on:    un  |  tuaregs  |  al-qaeda  |  niger  |  mali  |  west africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.