OUAGADOUGOU — More than 35,000 refugees from Mali have crossed into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger to flee fighting between Tuareg rebels and government forces, officials said Monday.
"Niger to date has more than 23,000 refugees from Mali, mostly along our border with Mali," Niger Finance Minister Mahamadou Ouhoumoudou told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting in Ouagadougou of the West African Economic and Monetary Union.
Burkina Faso's regional cooperation deputy minister, Vincent Zakane, said his country has taken in more than 12,000 refugees from Mali.
"Government efforts are unable to cope with the large influx of refugees," he added.
The International Committee of the Red Cross believes that at least 60,000 people have been internally displaced in Mali because of fighting in the north.
The UN refugee agency has said that more than 44,000 people have fled into Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania.
Tuareg rebels, boosted by the return of some who had been fighting for late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, launched attacks on several northern towns in Mali last month as part of their campaign for autonomy.
Amnesty International last week described the situation as "the worst human rights crisis in northern Mali for 20 years".
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