According to reports by the United Nations, over 4,000 Malian refugees have arrived in Mauritania alone since January 11, when France launched a war on Mali under the pretext of halting the advance of fighters in the country.
Along with Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger are also providing the displaced Malians with shelter.
On January 22, Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news briefing in Geneva that new arrivals from Mali continue to “tell us they left their homes because of airstrikes and fighting.”
Edwards added that the refugees also speak of rising shortages of food and fuel “with traditional markets unable to operate.”
On January 18, UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming warned that “in the near future there could be up to 300,000 people additionally displaced inside Mali, and over 400,000 additionally displaced in the neighboring countries.”
The figures do not include the existing 229,000 people already displaced inside the country and 147,000 refugees who have fled to neighboring nations, Fleming told reporters in Geneva.
The United States, Canada, Britain, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark have already said they would support the French war.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has also pledged to support the war by sending 5,800 soldiers to Mali.
Some political analysts believe that Mali’s abandoned natural resources, including gold and uranium reserves, could be one of the reasons behind the French war.