News of the intensifying clashes in their home country reaches the 12,000 Malian refugees in Mentao camp, Burkina Faso, mainly by word of mouth, meaning much of what they hear is vague or unconfirmed.
Most of them have been absent from their homeland for two years now, but while they still fear for their lives and fear that the violence is escalating, many are making the decision to return anyway.
The camp is just south of Djibo, in the Sahel region, where the temperature often reaches the high 40s. Flies buzz, chickens cluck, and the sound of babies crying is constantly in the air. Amid transient-looking tents with plastic coverings there are solar panels and satellite dishes.
Ali Kassoum (52) is an Arab from Timbuktu – 540km away – and the president of the camp’s mental centre committee. He has been living here since the violence broke out in 2012.