The crisis in northern Mali since 2012 has forced some 50,000 Malians into exile into Niger. It has also led to the return of 6,000 Niger nationals previously living in Mali. Most refugees live in the three camps established in Tillaberi region in 2012, namely: Abala, Mangaize and Tabareybarey.
In 2013, in an attempt to adapt to the specific needs of nomadic refugees, two “refugee hosting areas” were established in Intikane and Tazalit in Tahoua region. These are vast areas where nomadic Malian refugees can settle freely with their livestock enabling them to live according to their traditional and pastoral way of life with grazing land for their animals.
Following the presidential elections in July-August 2013 and a gradual improvement of the security situation in northern Mali, a back-and-forth movement between Niger and the areas of origin in Mali has been observed. Some refugees have also requested UNHCR for return assistance. Even though the situation in northern Mali does not yet call for the promotion of organized massive returns, UNHCR has offered individual assistance and since November 2013 has assisted some 6,000 refugees to return to Mali.
In May 2014, a Tripartite Agreement between Mali, Niger and UNHCR was signed for the voluntary repatriation of refugees to supervise the process.