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Displacement, famine in Mali

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Conflict and food insecurity have displaced more than 435,000 people in Mali, the U.N. relief agency said Thursday.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report nearly 262,000 displaced persons have registered as refugees in neighboring countries, including Niger, Burkina Faso and Algeria, while another 174,000 are internally displaced in the northern towns of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal.

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Fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels that began in January has resulted in arms proliferation and political instability, and a military coup in March has only added to the displacement, the report said.

The semi-arid northern African country is particularly vulnerable to famine, and refugees and internally displaced persons are in urgent need of food, shelter and water, with a further threat of locusts, which destroy agriculture, lingering on the horizon.

An estimated 4.6 million people are in need of food aid, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said.

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