UNITED NATIONS - Tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing the latest outbreak of fighting in Mali that has led to French air strikes against Islamist strongholds in the northern part of the country, the United Nations said on Monday.
"An estimated 30,000 people may have been displaced as a direct result of the fighting in Central/Northern Mali," UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey told reporters. "Since March 2012, some 230,000 people have been displaced by the fighting and insecurity in Mali," he said.
France, which has poured hundreds of troops into the Malian capital Bamako in recent days, carried out more air raids on Monday in the vast desert area seized last year by an Islamist alliance grouping al-Qaida's north African wing, AQIM, alongside Mali's home-grown MUJWA and Ansar Dine militant groups.
France called for a new UN Security Council meeting on Monday to update the 15-nation body on developments in Mali.