DAKAR, 24 February 2012 (IRIN) – Refugee numbers are rising daily in countries bordering Mali as fighting rages between the Malian army and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), which is fighting for greater autonomy for the Tuareg.
There are also tens of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Mali.
A US$35.6 million appeal is being launched today, said Helene Caux, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) senior regional public information officer on 23 February, to deal with “the Mali displacement”.
The Burkina Faso Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation said that by 21 February there were 16,299 Malian Tuareg refugees in the country. By 23 February that figure had reached 17,499.
The bulk of arrivals entered the country at Tina-koff, Inabao and Deou in the northern province of Oudalan. The rest are in nine other provinces. They are being hosted by individual families or by communities, and some by families in the capital, Ouagadougou. However, the ministry says, most are in sites in the Sahel Region: at Mentao in Soum Province and Inabao and Gandafabou in Oudalan Province.
The government has identified two sites in the regions of Goudebo and Ingan to set up refugee camps.
Initially, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has distributed energy biscuits, kitchen kits and blankets; the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization are providing medicines and water purification; UNHCR has provided 500 tents drawn from stockpiles in Douala, Cameroon, and is coordinating the response.
By 23 February, 28,858 refugees had arrived in Niger since the fighting began in January. These include citizens of Niger, some of whom had lived in Mali for several years. Here, too, locals have been helping the refugees. The government has provided food and local NGO PLAN Niger has also been providing support. Read more…