Mali Emergency - Background
Hundreds of Thousands in Need
More than 350,000 people have fled their homes in Mali since fighting erupted in the north in January 2012 between a Tuareg rebel movement and Malian government forces. Tens of thousands of them have found refuge in neighbouring Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger. Some have also fled to Guinea and Togo. Some 200,000 have sought shelter within Mali.
The Mali crisis deepened when military officers staged a coup d'état in March 2012 followed by the capture of the north by the Tuareg's National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the Ansar Dine group. The two declared an Islamic state in the north before falling out in June, when Ansar Dine and other Islamic militant groups took control of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal.
People continue to flee political instability, insecurity, widespread human rights abuses, the strict application of Sharia law and the threat of stepped up fighting. The lack of basic services and of employment is also causing population displacement. At the start of December 2012, some 155,000 people had fled the country while about 200,000 were internally displaced.
The refugees and internally displaced are predominantly ethnic Tuareg, but other affected groups include the Peul, Bambara, Djerma, Haussa and Songhai people. Many of the refugees are pastoralists who have taken their cattle with them. They are living in harsh conditions in the host countries, which themselves have limited resources.
The Sahel region countries have been facing a severe drought and food crisis for several months. Some parts of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger were also hit by devastating floods in 2012. The role of UNHCR and other agencies is crucial in alleviating the burden on the host communities.
UNHCR and the agency's humanitarian aid partners, meanwhile, are working around the clock to provide protection and assistance for all uprooted Malian civilians. This is a major challenge due to funding shortfalls, and UNHCR urges donors to continue contributing to its appeal for US$123.7 million.
The funding shortage is affecting access to education, an important protection tool, for young Malian refugees in the neighbouring countries. Despite the financial problems, UNHCR and its partners are determined that food and non-food items reach the vulnerable and ensure their well-being.
The Revised Appeal: UNHCR Emergency response appeal for the Mali situation 2012