144 500 Malians flee, 230 000 internally displaced: UN
The conflict in Mali has caused nearly 150,000 people to flee the country, while about another 230,000 are internally displaced, the UN humanitarian agency said Tuesday.
According to OCHA, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has registered 144,500 refugees in neighbouring countries -- 54,100 in Mauritania, 50,000 in Niger, 38,800 in Burkina Faso and 1,500 in Algeria.
The number of displaced persons has increased by 30,000 since fighting began this month between Islamist rebels and Mali government troops backed by French air power, OCHA said.
In the flashpoint central town of Konna, an estimated 5,000 people --half the population -- have fled across the Niger river, said a commission tracking movements of people in Mali.
Meanwhile the World Food Programme, which distributes food in Mali through nine non-governmental organisations, said it needed $129 million (97 million euros) to meet the population's needs, a WFP spokeswoman said.
Last year the WFP provided aid to 1.2 million Malian refugees and people internally displaced by the conflict.