The refugees fleeing Mali tell aid agencies that they have seen executions and amputations, have had family members “disappear” and have seen rebel armies recruiting children.
Mali has seen an increase in both internal and external refugees over the past year — ever since Islamists moved into the northern regions and imposed harsh sharia law, with forced marriages, amputations and public whippings. But after the French military entered Mali to try to drive out the Islamists, there’s been an uptick in the number of people crossing into neighboring countries – almost 1,500 have crossed into Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso since last week, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
“Refugees are telling us they fled the ongoing military intervention, the absence of subsistence opportunities and basic services, and the imposition of Sharia law,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said in Geneva this week. . .