Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 October 2017, 09:59 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Mali

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 10 June 2002
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Mali , 10 June 2002, available at: [accessed 24 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 9,000 refugees and asylum seekers at the end of 2001, including about 5,000 from Mauritania, 2,000 from Sierra Leone, and 2,000 from various other countries.

About 3,000 Malians applied for asylum in Europe during the year. About 4,000 Malians continued to live in Mauritania in refugee-like circumstances.

Refugees from Mauritania

About 5,000 refugees lived in southwestern Mali's Kayes region, near the Mauritanian border, during the year. Some estimates placed the number of refugees as high as 10,000. Most of the Mauritanians were ethnic Peuhls whose traditional livelihood as herders led them to migrate back and forth across the border. Mauritanian officials expelled thousands of Peuhls in 1989-90 and barred those in Mali from returning to Mauritania.

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

Several thousand refugees from various African countries resided in urban areas of Mali. Mostly Sierra Leonean and Liberian, a majority of the urban refugees received health care and education benefits from UNHCR. Budget constraints forced UNHCR to curtail small loans to refugees who were attempting to start their own businesses. UNHCR has closed its office in Mali; UNHCR staff in neighboring Senegal monitored Mali's refugee situation during 2001.

Reintegration of Malian Refugees

Some 120,000 Malian refugees repatriated during 1995-97 after an armed insurgency in the country's remote northern region ended.

Returnee reintegration has been hampered by extreme poverty in northern Mali and refugees' cultural transition from a traditional nomadic lifestyle to a sedentary existence. Banditry and kidnappings have reportedly increased in northern Mali in recent years. Former rebels temporarily held ten government soldiers hostage in February 2001 to demand greater economic development in returnee areas.

A report by the UN secretary general in April 2001 echoed earlier warnings by humanitarian aid workers that the lack of services in northern Mali could create dissatisfaction among returnees that might trigger new violence. The UN's report observed that "concerns remain regarding the possible resurgence of security threats in ... northern Mali ... mainly because of the unresolved problems of reintegration and development."

Malian authorities established a special agency in April to coordinate development efforts in the north.

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