United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1997 - Niger, 1 January 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a8a623.html [accessed 29 July 2016]
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Some 15,000 Nigeriens were refugees at the end of 1996, including nearly 15,000 in Algeria and about 500 in Burkina Faso. Niger hosted about 27,000 refugees, including approximately 25,000 from Mali and some 2,000 from Chad. Nigerien Refugees Most Nigerien refugees were ethnic Tuaregs, predominantly nomads, who fled government crackdowns in recent years against a Tuareg insurgency in northern Niger. A peace agreement between the Niger government and Tuareg insurgents in 1995 brought relative calm to the affected area of Niger, but it is believed that relatively few refugees repatriated. The government signed agreements with officials of Algeria and Burkina Faso in March to lay the groundwork for the eventual return of Nigerien refugees. The country's interior minister stated that the repatriation of Nigerien refugees must include long-term assistance in order to make their return more than "a mere geographical displacement of refugees that will confine them in an internal exile." The main obstacle to immediate repatriation, according to UN officials, was a need to identify and prepare returnee sites in Niger. Malian Refugees Malian refugees fled to Niger in 1994 because of hostilities between Mali's government and its Tuareg and Arab populations. An estimated 5,000 returned to Mali in 1995 without international assistance. The number of returnees in 1996 was unclear the Malian government reported that about 8,000 repatriated from Niger, while UN officials in Niger reported that about 1,000 repatriated. Those who returned did so spontaneously, without international assistance. UNHCR indicated that it would begin a program of organized, assisted repatriations from Niger to Mali in 1997. Most Malians lived scattered in western Niger, near the border with Mali, where they received assistance in health, sanitation, education, agriculture, and livestock. Chadian Refugees Most of the 2,000 Chadian refugees in Niger arrived several years ago, fleeing armed violence and human rights abuses in their country. The majority of them were transferred away from the border in 1993-94 to the town of Gouré, 200 miles from Niger's border with Chad.