WASHINGTON - The White House released up to $10 million on Thursday for emergency relief efforts to aid Malian refugees fleeing the West African country, which has seen a coup and rising violence from Islamic extremists with links to al-Qaida.

The money, which comes from an emergency fund designed to provide refugee assistance, will finance relief and protection operations headed by the United Nations.

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Almost 230,000 people have left Mali, according to the White House, while 155,000 are internally displaced, fueling concerns of a massive humanitarian crisis in the region.