Fear of returning home to Mali remains widespread

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With the resumption of country bus services, some people have been returning home from cities like Bamako.© UNHCR/H.Caux

As the conflict continues in Mali, the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says it's continuing to see large numbers of internally displaced people, while in surrounding countries the numbers of refugees are still high and in some cases increasing. Despite improvements to the security situation in some areas, fear of returning home remains widespread. An estimated 430,000 people have been uprooted by the crisis. It's believed that more than 260,000 of those are still displaced inside Mali.

UNHCR spokesperson, Adrian Edwards says that returning home for many is not an option: “For IDPs and refugees alike, the primary worry remains insecurity. Continued fighting, suicide attacks, reprisal attacks against some communities, the presence of mines and unexploded ordinance in the regions of Mopti, Gao, and Timbuktu, are all cited as reasons to delay returning. However, the absence of services in the north is also very clearly a factor. Few schools are functioning there, government authorities are still absent in many towns and cities, and many displaced families prefer to wait.”

For those outside Mali, an additional complication is the ethnic make-up, as a majority of the refugees are Tuareg or Arab. Fear of reprisal attacks is widespread.

Nicki Chadwick, UN Radio, Geneva.

Duration: 1’22″

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