The United Nations refugee agency said today that it has received reports of horrific abuses in Mali and it anticipates up to 700,000 more people will be forced to flee their homes in the coming months.
UNHCR staff are relaying stories of executions and amputations and tales of large offers of money to civilians who will fight against the French-backed Malian army, spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.
There have also been reports of child soldiers and forced disappearances.
The stories had been recounted by Malian refugees who crossed into Burkina Faso from the Gao region of northern Mali.
The agency is planning for the additional displacement of up to 300,000 inside Mali and 407,000 more refugees flowing into neighbouring countries.
It is reinforcing its teams across the region as refugees flee to Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger, Algeria, Guinea and Togo.