3,000 flee Mali violence since mid-February

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) on Tuesday said some 3,000 people had fled Mali into neighbouring Burkina Faso following increased inter-communal violence between mid- February and early April.

The agency says dozens of people have been killed in clashes between the Dogon and Peul communities since February, and homes and other property have been destroyed, mainly in the Koro area of central Mali’s Mopti region.

The new arrivals in Burkina Faso include 2,000 Malian citizens as well as 1,000 Burkinabe who had been living in Mali for many years. With many afraid to travel by road, for fear of kidnappings and murder, they arrived via unofficial border crossings, on foot or in light vehicles.

They add to some 24,000 Malian refugees who have found refuge in Burkina Faso since the start of the Mali conflict in 2012.

The UNHCR warned of more displacements as the violence persists, saying this would lead to increased humanitarian needs.

Most of the new arrivals have sought refuge in regions not far away from the border. The agency has however urged them to camp further away for better security.

It said it was working with authorities to refugees settled in spontaneous sites to safe zones.

This would ease their documentation and enable them access basic social services.