managed by A. Johanson
Former residents of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao, cities now under the occupation of Islamists linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other hardline groups, comprise the bulk of those displaced.
More than 265,000 travelled to refugee camps in Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso, while 185,800 more have been internally displaced.
Many of the displaced live under whatever shelter they can find. The influx of people is exacerbating an already rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation as food prices continue to rise and health services decline. Many international aid organisations have suspended their activities in the north due to security risks, making the most at-risk displaced populations hard to reach.
Those displaced say they are in need of adequate shelter, food and clean water. They complain that they cannot find work. Young people want to study but can't afford private education. Light-skinned Tuaregs are fearful of being associated with the MNLA, a Tuareg rebel group, and feel discriminated against.
Yet above all, they miss their homes and their way of life.