Considerable challenges remain for a safe and sustainable return home for Malians: UNHCR

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A Malian woman and her son watch pigeons flying off the roof of the room they are renting in Bamako. UNHCR/H. Caux

In Mali, the fast-evolving situation in the north of the country has raised hopes that many displaced people will be able to go back to their homes soon.

But the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says considerable challenges remain to a safe and sustainable return.

UNHCR says some of the displaced are eager to return home, reports of unrest and revenge attacks against certain groups are dissuading others.

Spokesperson Adrian Edwards says media and other reports show that Tuareg and Arab minorities, in particular, have been targeted because of their perceived support for the rebels, who have been accused of serious abuses against the population.

“Shortages of food, fuel and electricity, as well as disruption to basic services such as health and education, are also mentioned by those people who at present prefer to wait and see before returning to the north. The presence of anti-personnel landmines and unexploded ordnance is also a serious concern, both for the civilian population and aid agencies hoping to help them. Some of the displaced have told us that their houses in the north have been seriously damaged or destroyed.”

Duration:  26″

UNHCR says families whose children are attending schools in Bamako say they will not return to the north until after the end of the school year in June.

Meanwhile, living conditions for the internally displaced in the south are precarious. Families lacking the means to rent houses are sleeping in the open, on roof terraces

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’20″

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