UN refugee agency preparing to assist thousands of displaced persons back to Mali

UN refugee agency preparing to assist thousands of displaced persons back to Mali
# 30 January 2013 04:26 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey on Tuesday said that the UN refugee agency "is readying itself to assist in the possible spontaneous return of thousands of conflict-displaced people in the north of Mali", APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The comments were made to press here at a daily briefing.

France recently staged a military invention in Mali after Islamic militants who had imposed harsh Sharia law in the north of the country began to make military advances.

The refugee agency said "it aims to open new presences in Gao and other cities in the north as soon as it becomes feasible," said del Buey.

The spokesperson also reported that "despite the indications of growing interest in returns, conditions in the north of the country are difficult."

"People recently displaced from the north have reported serious shortages of food, clean water and fuel," he said.

"In all, some 380,000 people have fled northern Mali since the start of the conflict a year ago. This includes 230,000 who are internally displaced, and more than 150,000 who are living as refugees in Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria," said del Buey.

The spokesperson added that Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman represented the UN at a donor's conference for Mali on Tuesday in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia and where the African Union is headquartered.

In his remarks at the conference, "Feltman stressed the urgency of the situation and the strong commitment of the United Nations to support Mali," said del Buey.

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