News / Africa

UNHCR Fears Worst Yet To Come In Mali Crisis

A woman prepares a mealat a Malian refugees camp in Chinegodar, western Niger, close to the Malian border, February 4, 2012.
A woman prepares a mealat a Malian refugees camp in Chinegodar, western Niger, close to the Malian border, February 4, 2012.

The U.N. refugee agency is warning that a growing refugee crisis in northern Mali is still at an early stage, but says the situation is rapidly deteriorating.  The UNHCR says it is stepping up aid efforts to help thousands of people fleeing clashes between Tuareg rebels and the Malian army into neighboring countries.  

Supplies arriving

The U.N. refugee agency reports the first of four scheduled cargo flights, carrying 300 tents, landed in Nema, Mauritania early Friday morning local time.  It says subsequent flights will carry thousands of additional tents destined for Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso.

It also says two trucks carrying 40 tons of sleeping mats, blankets, jerrycans and other basic relief items are currently on the way from Accra, Ghana to Niger.  They are due to arrive by the middle of next week.  The UNHCR says future road convoys are being organized.

U.N. refugee spokesman Adrian Edwards said the UNHCR is doing its best to respond quickly to the deteriorating situation, which is still unfolding in Mali.  “In the wake of the crisis in Libya last year, there has been this sudden uptick in violence.  We have all seen these reports of the rebels fighting being heavily armed. The full story, I think, is still going to come out of this," he said. "But, clearly, you have gone back to a situation in Mali of rebellion, of violence.  We have seen this before in Mali.  Now, it is having an effect, not just on Mali itself, but across a wide geographic area bringing in several countries.”  

Hundreds return to Mali

Hundreds of Tuaregs recently returned to Mali from Libya.  Many had fought alongside troops loyal to former Libyan dictator, Moammar Gaddafi and they returned home carrying tons of weaponry from the Libyan conflict.  Upon their return they renewed a long-simmering rebellion against the Malian government with a series of attacks on towns in north Mali on January 17.

Since then, the UNHCR says about 30,000 people have fled into Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.  Spokesman Edwards says it is important to note that not all these people are refugees or asylum seekers.  With Niger, for example, he says some of those returning are Niger nationals who have been working in Mali for some time.  

“You also have in Burkina Faso, for example, people who are from Mali, but have lived in Burkina Faso doing business there.  They are now bringing their families out of Mali.  So, it is a mixed migration.… but, it is rising in numbers quite rapidly.  These are impoverished areas.  There are food, there are water shortages already, particularly in northern Niger.  It is a situation that does need aid.  It does need addressing pretty fast,” Edwards stated. 

Edwards notes UNHCR’s mandate relates primarily to helping refugees and asylum seekers.  But, he says the agency normally also provides aid to local people so as not to create hostility within host communities who are likely to be poor and in need of assistance, as well.

He says the fighting in northern Mali and the resulting refugee crisis will likely get worse, adding to the region's woes.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs