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AID workers fear insecurity in conflict-hit Mali could potentially spill across the borders into Burkina Faso and Niger.
Kidnap threats and concerns for security have led to the relocation of three refugee camps sheltering thousands of people in Burkina Faso.
Settlements were originally based 31 miles away from the country’s boundary with Mali.
Two of the camps (Fereiro and Ganfabou) have now moved further south to Goudebo and Mentao, areas located more than 62 miles away the border. The third camp is yet to be relocated.
Plan International, an aid agency working with more than 45,000 children in the country, fears Mali’s conflict could lead to a mass influx of refugees.
“Thousands of new refugees are fleeing combat zones,” says Mark Wentling, Plan’s Director in Burkina Faso.
“The humanitarian consequences of this conflict could potentially be catastrophic.
“Our local partners are preparing for the worst case scenario which is 100,000 new refugees arriving according to UNHCR,” Mr Wentling adds.
“If this happens more support will be required to meet the immediate needs of the most vulnerable new arrivals, particularly pregnant women, children and infants.”
In Niger, agencies are concerned that violence could leak into the country – with one camp sheltering Malian refugees in the Tillaberi region only 20km from the border.
More than 700 new refugees have been registered in Niger since the French began their offensive in Mali.
Camps sheltering thousands of refugees in Burkina Faso are due to be expanded to cope with the swelling number of fresh arrivals.
New settlements are expected to be established in Goudebo, an area located in Burkina Faso’s northern region, close to its border with Mali.
“There are more than 38,000 Malian refugees here, many of them women and young children,” says Mr Wentling.
“More than 1,800 people arrived over a ten-day period this month (January). We expect many more to arrive in the weeks ahead.”
Plan International is providing child protection and education support to children in refugee camps. The charity is also providing clean water and sanitation supplies.
For further information or interviews with Plan staff in Burkina Faso please contact Plan UK’s press office on 0300 777 9777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
1) Plan is a global children’s charity. Plan has been working in Burkina Faso since 1976.
We work with children in the world’s poorest countries to help them build a better future. A future you would want for all children, your family and friends. For 75 years we’ve been taking action and standing up for every child’s right to fulfill their potential by:
· giving children a healthy start in life, including access to safe drinking water
· securing the education of girls and boys
· working with communities to prepare for and survive disasters
· inspiring children to take a lead in decisions that affect their lives
· enabling families to earn a living and plan for their children’s future.
We do what’s needed, where it’s needed most. We do what you would do. With your support children, families and entire communities have the power to move themselves from a life of poverty to a future with opportunity.
2) Plan UK is a member of The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella organisation for 14 leading humanitarian aid agencies.
3) We work with children in 50 of the world’s poorest countries to help them build a better future.
4) Plan was founded by British journalist John Langdon-Davies in 1937 to rescue orphans and other vulnerable children from the Spanish Civil War.
5) We have over 100,000 sponsors in the UK, generating £24 million a year, and 1 million sponsored children worldwide.
6) Sponsorship starts at £15-a-month and, rather than going to individual children and their families, funds projects to improve schooling, health, nutrition and livelihoods across communities.