Geneva - The UN refugee agency says 22 000 people have fled from Mali to neighboring countries to escape fighting.
A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says most of those who fled are taking refuge in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that most of the 10 000 refugees who have arrived in Niger are sleeping in the open with little access to shelter, clean water, food or medicine.
He says a further 9 000 have arrived in Mauritania and 3 000 have fled to Burkina Faso.
Fighting between Tuareg rebels and government troops broke out in northern Mali on January 17, breaking a three-year truce. - Sapa-AP