GENEVA - The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) announced on Friday that because of the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in Mali, neighbouring countries should provide protection to those fleeing conflict.

Not all Malians need protection, the agency said, but the threat has spread from northern Mali to other regions.

It cited armed groups affiliated with Coordination des Mouvements de l’Azawad and others that have failed to respect the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation in Mali agreement.

The conflict has been further escalated by Islamist extremist groups.

According to UNHCR, civilians, politicians and civil servants along with security forces are being targeted and murdered.

Nearly 200 peacekeepers have been killed since 2013, making it the deadliest peacekeeping operation in the world.

And people who collaborate with national or international defence forces subsequently find themselves targeted for attack and may be in need of international protection, the agency said.