- Title: NIGER: Mali refugees say it's too early to return home
- Date: 31st January 2013
- Summary: AYOROU, 200 KILOMETRES NORTH OF NIAMEY TOWARDS THE BORDER WITH MALI, NIGER (JANUARY 31, 2013) (REUTERS) REFUGEES CAMP WITH UNITED NATIONS TENTS
- Embargoed: 15th February 2013 12:00
- Location: Niger
- Country: Niger
- Topics: International Relations,Politics,Social Services / Welfare
- Reuters ID: LVAC3Y0SX8I8E5HDL4AVDDO8VKGO
- Story Text: Malians struggle with life in a dusty refugee camp but say it's still too early to return home.
Dust, sand and heavy wind on Thursday (January 31) heightened the hardship for the 7,000 refugees living in the camp of Taberey Baraye, not far from Mali-Niger border.
Since clashes between armed rebels and government forces erupted in northern Mali in early 2012, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes.
In all, some 380,000 people have fled northern Mali since the start of the conflict, the most recent assessment by the United Nations' refugee agency UNHCR says. 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, the UNHCR also says.
As the French-backed Malian army recaptured all main cities in northern Mali, the UNHCR said it was getting ready to assist the refugees to make their journey home.
For some, it's too early to talk about returning to Mali.
"We are not ready to go back now even if the war is over. There are still so many problems, we don't know what will happen. We are being told that they fled, but how can we be sure they didn't go away to prepare and come back ?" said Adama Hada, a Malian refugee living in Taberey Baraye camp, which opened in May 2012.
France's three-week ground and air campaign has dislodged al Qaeda-linked fighters from northern Mali's major towns, but military analysts suggest the conflict could be headed for a prolonged, low-level insurgency, with small groups of Islamist fighters carrying out sporadic attacks.
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