60,000 Flee Mali Fighting

60,000 Flee Mali Fighting60,000 Flee Mali Fighting

Clashes between armed groups in northern Mali have forced almost 60,000 people to flee their homes in the past month, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday, amid escalating violence that threatens to derail UN-brokered peace efforts.

A ceasefire deal was signed between the government, its allies and northern opposition groups last year, but violations have increased since pro-government fighters seized the flashpoint town of Menaka late last month.

Mali’s government and allied militia signed up to a UN-backed peace deal in March, but Tuareg-led rebels said more talks were needed, delaying international efforts to restore order to a zone awash with separatists and gunmen, World Bulletin reported.

“The volatile security situation is hindering access for humanitarian workers to all affected areas and the growing insecurity in the region is making the provision of protection and assistance to the newly-displaced very challenging,” UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said in a statement.

Tens of thousands of people have fled their villages in northern Mali in recent weeks due to fear of violence or forced recruitment by armed groups, and many are sleeping outdoors, according to the UNHCR.

More than 100,000 people have been uprooted within Mali since conflict broke out between pro-government forces and rebel groups in 2012.