Emergency response appeal for the Mali situation 2012
The Tuareg are a traditionally nomadic people who live in the semi-arid Sahel and arid Sahara in an area that overlaps Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Libya.
Tuareg society is composed of a multitude of individual tribes with different languages and varying customs depending on location. In the 1960’s, the traditional Tuareg territory was divided among a number of newly independent nations: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, Morocco and Niger. After independence, the Tuareg felt largely left out of the new governments. Since this time, there have been several periods of displacement due to either conflict or drought.
A Tuareg insurgency in the spring of 1990 created a significant number of refugees in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.
A new Mouvement National de Liberation de l’Azawad (MNLA), formed in October 2011, has taken up the decades-old demand for independence by the tribe. Previous rebellions occurred in Mali and Niger in the 1960s, 1990s and early 2000, with resurgence from 2006-2009. The MNLA seeks autonomy for the tribe in the north of Mali, an area it calls the Azawad.
In January 2012, the MNLA rebels reportedly attacked three towns in northern Mali. These attacks represented the first significant Tuareg militant offensive in the country for three years, and marked the beginning of renewed armed operations by the MNLA.
Since 17 January, attacks have been taking place in three main regions in northern Mali: Gao, Kidal and Tombouctou. Cities located by the border with Niger; Menaka, Anderamboukane, Intillit, Tissit have all been affected by the fighting. The Malian cities of Léré and Niafounke, located at the border with Mauritania; and Aguelhok and Tessalit near Algeria have also been affected. The rebel strategy has been to attack government forces using small groups moving quickly between targets, creating panic among civilian populations. The conflict has also increased tensions between the different ethnic communities in the country.
So far, some 60,000 Malians are reported to have been internally displaced and over 65,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, mostly in Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso. The refugees reported fleeing from the fighting between government forces and Tuareg combatants, from violence and retaliation by army troops, and in some locations, being victims of inter-community tensions and intimidation. As the displacement is likely to continue, UNHCR and its partners, including governments, UN agencies and NGOs, have been working together to develop an action plan to respond to the needs of an expected 85,000 forcibly displaced people for a period of six months.
The additional financial requirements presented in this document amount to USD 35,598,786 million and will allow UNHCR to fulfil its mandate in cooperation with its partners. The Office will provide immediate protection and assistance to the refugees and, in the context of inter-agency arrangements, to Malian Tuaregs, who have been internally displaced due to the current turmoil.
For additional up-to-date information, please consult http://data.unhcr.org/MaliSituation