Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2017, 11:43 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2001 - Mali

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 20 June 2001
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2001 - Mali , 20 June 2001, available at: [accessed 20 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Mali hosted approximately 7,000 refugees at the end of 2000, including about 5,000 from Mauritania, some 1,000 from Sierra Leone, and about 1,000 from various other countries.

Approximately 1,000 Malians remained refugees, primarily in Niger. An additional 3,000 Malians applied for asylum in Europe during the year. Relatively few, if any, Malian refugees repatriated during the year.

Refugees from Mauritania

About 5,000 refugees continued to live in southwestern Mali's Kayes region, near the Mauritanian border. Some estimates placed the number of refugees as high as 10,000. Most were ethnic Peuhls, herders whose traditional livelihood relied on cross-border migrations. Mauritanian officials expelled them in 1989-90 and barred those outside the country from returning.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) completed its assistance program for Mauritanian refugees in 1999. Most of the refugees were locally integrated and unlikely to return to Mauritania.

Urban Refugees

Some 2,000 refugees from various African countries resided in urban areas of Mali. Most were from Sierra Leone and Liberia. All urban refugees qualified for medical assistance from UNHCR, but only extremely vulnerable refugees received additional assistance. Most urban refugees operated small businesses and supported themselves without aid.

Repatriation of Malian Refugees

An estimated 120,000 Malian refugees repatriated during 1995-97 when an armed insurgency in the country's remote northern region ended. Humanitarian aid workers warned that the lack of services in returnee areas could create dissatisfaction among returnees that might trigger new violence.

UNHCR reported that returnee areas remained "relatively stable" during 2000 and that only "minor" security incidents occurred. Incidents of banditry in desert border areas occurred repeatedly during the year.

The refugee population's reintegration in Mali has been difficult. Many returnees have struggled to make a wrenching transition from a traditional nomadic lifestyle to a sedentary existence that has dramatically changed gender roles and economic livelihoods.

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