More than 320,000 people have fled their homes in Mali since mid-January, with more than half seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, UN officials said Tuesday.
“There are 187,000 refugees in neighbouring countries,” UN spokeswoman Corinne Momal-Vanian told journalists in Geneva.
Another roughly 133,000 people have been displaced internally, she added.
“The main countries where we're seeing people displaced to are Mauritania followed by Burkina Faso and Niger,” said Adrian Edwards, spokesman for UN refugee agency UNHCR.
“Currently we have 62,871 people in Mauritania, 56,664 in Burkina Faso and 39,388 in Niger.” The new estimate of refugees and internally displaced is about 50,000 people higher than an April 23 figure of 270,000 released by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The increase underlines the continued instability in the West African nation, where a March 22 coup unleashed political chaos that has allowed Tuareg separatists and Islamist rebels to seize control of vast swathes of territory in the north.
The coup leaders, who have handed power over to former speaker of parliament Dioncounda Traore, said Tuesday they had defeated an overnight counter-coup by foreign-backed forces loyal to ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure. – Photos by AFP.