Briefing Notes, 24 February 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 24 February 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR issued an appeal yesterday (Thursday) for US$35.6 million to respond to the growing humanitarian crisis surrounding the new rebel insurgency that broke out in northern Mali on 17 January.
An estimated 130,000 people have been uprooted within and outside Mali since the resumption of clashes between the Malian army and Tuareg rebels of the Mouvement National de Libération de l'Azawad (MNLA) – breaking the 2009 peace deal that had formally ended the Tuareg rebellion in Mali.
In the surrounding countries, the largest influx has so far been recorded in Niger with 28,858 arrivals. In Mauritania, 22,958 Malian refugees have been registered so far. Another 17,499 Malian refugees have found refuge in Burkina Faso. More daily arrivals are being recorded in the neighboring countries as attacks continue throughout northern Mali, where an estimated 60,000 Malians are also internally displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance.
The appeals aims at covering the needs of 85,000 uprooted people until July 2012. The funds will be used by UNHCR to provide emergency assistance to the displaced in Mali and neighboring countries. UNHCR is to establish camps further away from the Mali border in all three countries to allow refugees to receive help in safer locations.
The majority of the uprooted are ethnic Tuaregs from rural areas. There are also ethnic Songhai, Moor and Fulani. They are currently hosted in remote and arid border villages that are affected both by food crisis, a severe drought, and the general insecurity in the Sahel region. Refugees are in desperate need of adequate shelter. They also need food, water and sanitation, healthcare and education. In addition, they need basic household items such as sleeping mats, mosquito nets, blankets and kitchen sets.
So far, UNHCR has delivered tents and other essential relief items to Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania to cover the needs of a total of 22,000 people. In Mauritania UNHCR has, in addition, purchased food for 20,000 refugees and has started relocating refugees to the Mbera camp, a former site we are rehabilitating in response to the ongoing influx. In Niger and Burkina Faso, sites have been identified to relocate refugees away from the border as soon as possible.
For further information on this topic, please contact: