Malian and French forces are retaking key cities in northern Mali from foreign and al-Qaida fighters. The Malian government in January asked its former colonial power France for help with the fighters, who captured northern territory following an early 2012 coup.
Jean-Nicolas Marti, regional director of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said ongoing fighting is keeping most refugees from returning home.
"The fact that displaced people are hesitant to go back to their homes is largely attributable to a general sense of not feeling secure, and also to the impossibility of generating income amid such instability," he said in a statement.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 430,000 people have been displaced in Mali since conflict began.
Commissioner Adrian Edwards said reconciliation efforts were needed in Mali to help "encourage peaceful coexistence between communities."
Human rights groups expressed concern that Malian forces may seek revenge on some communities as they push north.