"We have deployed 100-ish, about 100 trainers to Africa. They're traveling to Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo and Ghana to discuss training and equipping and deployment needs of those countries in the interest of getting them ready to go into Mali," she said.
U.N. says warring threatens cultural heritage
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has issued calls for the protection of cultural heritage sites in Mali.
The ancient city of Timbuktu is a UNESCO World Heritage site of huge cultural significance, but its carefully preserved heritage has come under severe threat amid the ongoing conflict.
The fabled city, whose name is sometimes used in the West as a synonym for a faraway place, was at the center of trans-Sahara trade in earlier times. Last year, al Qaeda-linked rebels in northern Mali destroyed historic and religious landmarks there, claiming such relics are idolatrous. Now it is threatened by warfare.
"I ask all armed forces to make every effort to protect the cultural heritage of the country, which has already been severely damaged," UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in an appeal to all combatants.
"Mali's cultural heritage is a jewel whose protection is important for the whole of humanity. This is our common heritage, nothing can justify damaging it."
The U.N. refugee agency said that in treks that began last year, when the crisis started, Malians are fleeing to other nations, including Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, Guinea, Algeria and Togo, and many are internally displaced.
Refugees in Burkina Faso said "they fled the recent military intervention, the lack of any means of subsistence, and fear of the strict application of Sharia law," the agency said.
People talked about family members disappearing.
"They reported having witnessed executions and amputations, and mentioned that large amounts of money are being offered to civilians to fight against the Malian Army and its supporters. According to the accounts from refugees there are children among the rebel fighters," the United Nations said.
Ethnic Tuareg women and children are among the latest refugees.
"They said that more people, including their husbands and fathers, are on their way to Burkina Faso by foot, many using donkeys or local transport, and many bringing livestock with them. Despite ongoing insecurity in northern Mali in recent months, they say that people have delayed fleeing Mali to allow the men to take care of businesses and animals," the United Nations said.
Human rights abuses
The United Nations has noted accounts of amputations, floggings and public executions, such as the July stoning of a couple that reportedly had an affair. The International Criminal Court has launched a war crimes investigation amid reports that residents have been mutilated and killed for disobeying the Islamists.
"The current human rights situation is linked to long-standing and unresolved issues," and "human rights violations have been committed both in the North and in the area under government control," the Human Rights Council said, citing abuses since January 2012.
"In northern Mali, serious human rights violations have been taking place since January 2012, including summary executions and extrajudicial killings," the council said. It also said:
-- Fighters "allegedly used students as human shields to force military forces to surrender and later on allegedly executed 94 of the 153 captured and disarmed soldiers."
-- Several Tuareg soldiers, including nine in Timbuktu, were also reportedly victims of reprisals by members of the Malian army in the North.
-- Among civilian deaths were people who tried to resist the looting of humanitarian warehouses by armed groups.
-- Ten amputation cases by extremists were reported in the north, including the case of a 30-year-old man whose right hand was cut off with a kitchen knife for allegedly stealing cattle following a summary trial set up by a militia.
-- Women have been assaulted, harassed and abused after being accused of being improperly veiled or dressed, or for riding on a motorbike. In April, six armed men allegedly belonging to the Ansar Dine extremist group raped a woman "for not wearing her veil in her own home."
-- Rapes of women and girls have been done "at times in front of family members and often apparently carried out on an ethnic basis."
-- Girls as young as 12 or 13 are reported to have been forcibly married to members of militias.