News / Africa

UNHCR Says Malian Refugees Fearful of Going Home

A woman walks past a child playing with water in a refugee camp in Sevare, Mali, Jan. 26, 2013.
A woman walks past a child playing with water in a refugee camp in Sevare, Mali, Jan. 26, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
The United Nations refugee agency reports the number of internally displaced people in Mali and refugees in neighboring countries remains high and in some areas is growing.  The UNHCR says the displaced and refugees are fearful of returning home despite improvements in the security situation in northern Mali. 

The U.N. refugee agency estimated more than 430,000 Malians were uprooted by the conflict that began last year.  It warns this displacement crisis is likely to become long-lasting unless the country's ethnic groups learn to co-exist peacefully. 

The agency says it is currently planning support for reconciliation in areas of displacement and returns, as well as in refugee camps.  But, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards notes these efforts cannot go forward until refugees and the displaced return to the homes they fled.  And, this, he says is a major problem because people are too afraid to return home.

"For IDP's (internally displaced persons) and refugees alike the primary worry remains insecurity," he said. "Continued fighting, suicide attacks, reprisal attacks against some communities, the presence of mines and unexploded ordinance in the regions of Mopti, Gao, and Timbuktu, are all cited as reasons to delay returning.  However, the absence of services in the north is very clearly also a factor.  Few schools are functioning there.  Government authorities are still absent in many towns and cities and many displaced families prefer simply to wait." 

A Tuareg rebellion for independence in northern Mali broke out in January 2012.  Two months later, army officers overthew the Malian president.  The Tuaregs launched an effort to seize the north, only to be pushed aside by al-Qaida-linked Islamist groups who imposed harsh forms of Sharia on the region.

In January, French forces succeeded in chasing the militants from their strongholds.   While this action has improved security and access to northern Mali, the situation there remains very fragile and uncertain.

UNHCR spokesman Edwards says very few IDPs staying in the capital Bamako are returning to their northern homes.  He says refugees in neighboring countries share this reluctance to return.

"For those outside Mali, an additional complication is the ethnic make-up, as a majority of the refugees are Tuareg or Arab.  Fear of reprisal attacks is widespread, as is fear of criminality or that jihadists might remain present in the community," said the spokesman.

Edwards says new refugee numbers are substantially lower now than a few weeks ago.  Nevertheless, he says refugees, albeit in smaller numbers, are continuing to flee Mali.  He notes the number of new arrivals in Mauritania last month averaged more than 1,500 a week, while refugee numbers in Burkina Faso and Niger are static.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More