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Obama authorizes US million aid for Malian refugees

WASHINGTON, July 13 — U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday authorized 10 million U.S. dollars in aid to help cope with the humanitarian crisis in northern Mali.

In a memo to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the president called the move "important to the national interest" of the United States.

The president noted that the aid came in response to the "unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs" resulting from the conflict in northern Mali.

Islamist militants, including the al-Qaida-linked Ansar Dine, waded into northern Mali after some Malian troops seized power in a coup in March and the Tuareg rebels carved up the country's north and declared the Azawad region an independent state in April.

The White House said some 230,000 Malian refugees have fled to Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger, with an additional 155,000 Malians internally displaced.

Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council, said Washington "strongly" condemned the attacks against civilians in northern Mali and the reported destruction and looting in Timbuktu.

"We call on the rebel groups in northern Mali to renounce any connection with terrorist groups and enter into legitimate political negotiations," Vietor said in a statement. (PNA/Xinhua) /CTB/mmg

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