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Updated On: Friday, November 24 2017

Aided By UN Staff, Malian Refugees Prepare To Vote In Sunday’s Election

Photo by: UN Photo / Blagoje Grujic

9 August 2013, New York, USA | Brendan Pastor - The United Nations has mobilized its personnel to assist Mali's election authorities in reaching distant refugees ahead of Sunday's presidential runoff election.

Humanitarian groups like the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) have begun preparations to facilitate peaceful voting efforts in the country, while supporting efforts to reach displaced refugees.

Farhan Haq, a spokesperson for the UN, described efforts to fly sensitive materials and voter cards to refugees living in camps across the region, including to those in neighboring Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Last July, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon explained the importance of Mali's presidential election for the future security and development of the country.

Ban called on all parties "to ensure that the electoral process takes place in an orderly manner," and encouraged all Malians to "exercise their democratic right to vote."
Mali has been in a state of crisis since early 2012 when, following a military coup d'état in March, Tuareg and Islamist rebels seized control of the northern regions, including the major cities of Timbuktu and Gao. Relative peace was only restored after an intervention by French military forces helped to establish a working government last January.

Since then, refugees have been scattered across the region. There are an estimated 353,000 internally displaced persons, with a further 173,000 living in camps in neighboring countries.

On 25 April 2013, the Security Council established MINUSMA to help restore order and facilitate democratic elections in the Saharan state. MINUSMA was instrumental in assisting Malian Defence and Security Forces in overseeing a safe and transparent election in July.

Meanwhile, UNHCR helped facilitate engagement by refugees after conducting interviews and surveys measuring Malian participation in elections.

"The surveys found that refugees were generally in favor of being included in the elections, that they have good awareness of the situation in Mali, and that some believe the elections will help peace and stability – a fundamental condition for many refugees in deciding whether to return to their country," Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for UNHCR, explained.

Edwards reiterated the need for democratic elections in order to help solve some of the country's many problems.
The Secretary-General also stressed the need to resolve post-election disputes through peaceful and legal means.

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