- Some 1,000 Malian Tuaregs that are fleeing the insecurity prevailing in northern Mali, have found refuge since the beginning of the year in neighbouring Burkina Faso, UN sources in Ouagadougou report. Several football stadiums in the Burkinabe capital are used as refugee camps as the conflict in northern Mali gets bloodier.
A new UN report on food security in West Africa, released today, warns of a new refugee crisis in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou. In the Sahelian city, the national Commission for Refugees (CONAREF) has started to register the arrival of more than thousand Tuaregs from northern Mali. They have arrived in small numbers in Ouagadougou through Djibo in the north of the Burkinabe capital.
On 30 May, a so-called "Multi-sector Committee for the Management of the Flux of Tuareg Asylum Seekers in Burkina Faso" was set up by the government after holding a meeting partnering UN agencies, the Burkina Faso Red Cross and CONAREF. The Committee is organising the registration, food and shelter provision, health and sanitary needs and financial organisation of the refugee crisis.
By now, 329 people were registered in Ouagadougou including 210 sheltered at the temporary site of the Stade du 4 août, one of Ougadougou's stadiums. At Djibo, 78 families, 594 people in total have been temporarily registered. "More arrivals are expected because a great number of people are reportedly roaming around the border waiting for satisfactory information about their hosting conditions in Burkina Faso. Figures may grow in the coming days," the UN report says.
While authorities consider reopening an old refugee camp some 10 kilometres in the north of Ouagadougou, should the situation be of long duration, immediate concerns are over the Tuaregs' health situation. Already, two patients have been hospitalised including a 15-month child who later died of severe malnutrition complications.
Local staff fear that epidemics may break out, although infrastructure is being put in place, Burkina Faso has been plagued by a meningitis epidemic during the last months, although government now reports this is decreasing. Since the beginning of the year, 9467 meningitis cases have been reported with 926 deaths.
Meanwhile, the conflict in northern Mali is claiming the highest death toll in clashes between Malian military and rebel forces for years. A total of 32 people - 15 military and 17 armed assailants - were killed and 31 others injured during an attack led on 21 May by armed bandits on the Abeibara military camp in north east Mali, the Malian Minister of Defence recently informed.
Abeibara is located some 150 kilometres in the north of Kidal the regional capital, not far from the border with Algeria. Early in May, the Diabaly military camp in the region of Segou central Mali was attacked, as well as a military convoy between Tessalit and Aguelhoc in the north.
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