UNHCR: Mali humanitarian crisis 'threatens whole region'

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UNHCR: Mali humanitarian crisis 'threatens whole region'

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The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees has called on the international community to do more to solve the humanitarian crisis in Mali.

Visiting neighbouring Burkina Faso, Antonio Guterres said peace and security across the region could be threatened.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled to other countries since a rebel takeover in northern Mali split the country in two.

Food price rises and insecurity have left millions needing urgent aid.

“I think that what is very important to underline is that we have now 250,000 refugees from Mali. With an enormous level of suffering and deprivation, they have crossed the borders of very poor countries that face dramatic food security problems: Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso,” said Guterres.

Those three countries have borne the brunt of the exodus since rebels in northern Mali declared independence for the territory they call Azawad, taking advantage of instability following a military coup in Bamako.

Islamists have since come to the fore, taking control of major towns and prompting international criticism for destroying shrines in Timbuktu, and trying to enforce sharia law.