Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

World Refugee Survey 2008 - Mali

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 19 June 2008
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, World Refugee Survey 2008 - Mali, 19 June 2008, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
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.

MLI figures


Mali hosted 6,500 Mauritanian refugees, who mostly lived in the southwestern Kayes region close to the Mauritanian border. Some 60,000 "black" Mauritanians first fled ethnic violence to neighboring Senegal and Mali in 1989. There were also 3,300 refugees from Côte d'Ivoire, who arrived in 2002 after a rebellion in the north effectively split the country in two. An undetermined number of refugees from Guinea-Conakry entered during the year. There were also some 2,100 asylum seekers from several African countries.

In June, the Mauritanian Government decided to allow an estimated 20,000 refugees to return home from Mali and Senegal. Two Ivorian refugees repatriated voluntarily, while another 12 resettled in Canada.

Refoulement/Physical Protection

There were no reports of refoulement, deaths, or serious danger to refugees.

Mali was party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Convention), its 1967 Protocol and the 1969 Convention governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, without reservation. The Constitution granted the right of asylum to those fleeing persecution.

With assistance from UNHCR, the Government operated the National Commission in Charge of Refugees (CNCR), whose meetings UNHCR attended as an observer. Asylum seekers could apply in writing to CNCR directly or through UNHCR. CNCR's Eligibility Committee interviewed applicants. Successful applicants received recognition of their refugee status, conditional upon approval from the Minister of Territorial Administration and Local Communities. There was no independent body for appeals, so CNCR heard them as well. Applicants could use counsel. Refugees and asylum seekers detained for a lack of documentation generally went free if they could prove registration with CNCR

During the year, Mali granted refugee status to 60 out of nearly a hundred applicants and gave temporary protection to more than 200 who were ineligible under the 1951 Convention or its 1967 Protocol.

Detention/Access to Courts

There were no reports of Mali detaining any refugees during the year, but officials could detain asylum seekers and refugees without documents, in which case they would notify UNHCR and CNCR. These agencies jointly supervised the detention of refugees and asylum seekers which typically did not exceed 24 hours.

CNCR provided all recognized refugees with cards issued by border police services, which were valid for three years and which authorities respected. Upon applying to CNCR or UNHCR, asylum seekers received temporary attestations that served as identity cards and residence permits for their stay in Mali.

Freedom of Movement and Residence

Refugees could move freely within Mali and could live where they chose, as there were no regulations restricting them to camps.

At the onset of the 2002 refugee inflow from Côte d'Ivoire, refugees set up camps across the country, but mainly near the Mali-Côte d'Ivoire border in Zegoua, Loulouni, Sikasso, Faragouaran, Kadiana, and Manankoro. The declining number of refugees from Côte d'Ivoire led to the closure of one camp in 2005, with the remaining 70 refugees moving to the Faragouaran camp.

Police frequently stopped and checked citizens and foreigners alike to restrict trafficking in contraband and to check vehicle registrations. Some police and gendarmes practiced extortion. By law, however, Mali, as a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), was committed to "the free movement of persons, goods, service and capital, and to the right of residence and establishment" within ECOWAS member states.

Mali issued refugees with international travel authorization upon receipt of a written application and proof of means of travel. During the year, it granted such authorization to one refugee.

Right to Earn a Livelihood

Article 13 of the 1998 Refugee Law granted refugees the same rights as nationals regarding access to the labor market, with the exception of the civil service. Mauritanian refugees in the Kayes region were essentially self-supporting through agricultural activity, growing corn, peanuts, and other crops.

Refugees had the right to practice professions, establish businesses, and acquire property. The Refugee Law gave refugees access to social security on par with nationals.

Public Relief and Education

Refugees had the same rights as nationals to obtain health services. Teams of visiting health workers educated, treated, and immunized rural women and children and distributed malaria nets. Refugee children had the same access as nationals to public education. The Association of former United Nations Volunteers provided refugees with school supplies and paid their enrollment fees.

Mali did not include refugees in its April 2008 Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper prepared for international donors.

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