UNHCR watching Mali situation, High Commissioner Guterres to visit Mauritania

Briefing Notes, 23 March 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 23 March 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is monitoring developments in Mali following the announcement that army soldiers had taken control of the country. Thus far we are not seeing new population movement either inside the country or to neighbouring countries, but we continue to follow the situation closely.

A concern for UNHCR is the potential for continued political uncertainty to create further population movements at a time when there is already considerable displacement inside and beyond Mali's borders. We are revising our contingency plans to allow us to respond to possible new influxes in surrounding countries.

Thousands of people have fled Mali since mid-January, following fighting between a rebel movement and Malian forces in the north of the country. Inside Mali, displaced people are living in difficult conditions in villages and temporary sites and dependant on the generosity of host communities.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, will be visiting Mauritania over the next days to attend a ceremony marking the end of the voluntary repatriation from Senegal to Mauritania, and to recognise the efforts that have been undertaken to support the asylum process over the years. He will also assess the situation in connection with the influx of persons affected by the conflict in Mali.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Dakar (Regional): Helene Caux on mobile +221 77 333 12 91
  • In Geneva: Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba on mobile +41 79 249 3483
  • Sybella Wilkes on mobile +41 79 557 9138
  • Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 91 20
  • Firas Kayal on mobile +41 79 881 91 60
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The High Commissioner

António Guterres, who joined UNHCR on June 15, 2005, is the UN refugee agency's 10th High Commissioner.

UNHCR Mauritania Fact Sheet

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Malian refugees flee for safety to Niger

Thousands of Malian families have arrived in Niger since mid-January, fleeing fighting between a rebel Tuareg movement and Malian government forces in northern Mali. Refugees are living in makeshift settlements along the border, exposed to the sun and wind by day, and cold at night. UNHCR has started distributing relief assistance and is planning to open camps in safer areas further away from the border. UNHCR's Helene Caux met with some the refugees who all expressed their desire to return to their country once peace prevails.

Malian refugees flee for safety to Niger

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