hundred Malians fleeing fighting between the army and Touareg rebels in
northern Mali have crossed the border into Burkina Faso since April,
according to the Burkina Faso national commission for refugees
Over 300 refugees, most of them women and children,
have been registered in Ouagadougou where they are sheltering in locker
rooms in the football stadium, while a further 600 are setting up
makeshift shelters in Djibo, 53 km from the Mali border and 205 km
north of the capital.
“The number of refugees arriving and claiming asylum is increasing,” Kogda Der, a CONAREF official, told IRIN.
potential refugees are waiting at the Mali-Burkina Faso border to hear
if the first arrivals will be settled before venturing to cross, Der
“More refugees will arrive… if the fighting does not stop,” confirmed refugee Ag Agalas Issa in Ouagadougou.
Violence between Malian soldiers and Touareg rebels has been mounting over recent months
and on 21 May the Malian government confirmed 27 soldiers and rebels
were killed and 31 wounded in clashes in northern Mali, causing concern
among military officers that the rebels are increasingly strong and
A previous revolt by Touaregs in northern Mali and
Niger in the 1990s resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilians being
displaced into neighbouring countries, many of them to Burkina Faso,
requiring a major relief operation.
Many refugees returned after a peace agreement was signed between the Mali government and the Touareg rebels in 1995.
Mohamed Alher Ag Abou, 27, remembers fleeing with his parents in 1993
during the second uprising between Touareg rebels and the Malian army.
“This time we came with our cattle. In 1997 when we returned home we found all our cattle had disappeared.”
teams from the government and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), assessed
the extent of the needs in the capital and Djibo on 28 May and are
preparing a response.
“The priority now is to set up refugee camps in Ouagadougou and Djibo,” said Der.
government plans to set up a camp in Saag Nioniogo, a suburb of
Ouagadougou which hosted hundreds of Touareg refugees in the 1990s.
are appealing to partners to help set up camps and provide food because
the government has no budget for this kind of emergency,” Der told
The government is already struggling to find shelter for some 542 Ouagadougou residents made homeless by the onset of the first heavy rains of the season on 24 May.