GENEVA, Switzerland, June 15 (UPI) -- The magnitude of the crisis in Mali is escalating to the point that a humanitarian crisis may unfold without a coordinated response, the United Nations said.
The U.N. refugee agency said more than 300,000 people were displaced by fighting and related political instability in the country.
"The magnitude of the emergency, the number of displaced people and the serious conditions they are in -- many are suffering from severe malnutrition -- requires an urgent increase in the overall response to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe," the agency warned in a statement.
Rebel military forces in March toppled the civilian government in Mali, saying they were frustrated with the inability to copy with northern rebels, who've declared autonomy for their part of the country.
Members of the Economic Community of West African States said there was preparing a stand-by force for deployment and sought approval to send troops into Mali under a Chapter VII resolution of the U.N. Security Council.
The United Nations said, however, that Malian borders were open and there were no forcible returns or obstacles for people seeking to flee the country.
"However, the general security situation in the region remains a challenge for U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and all humanitarian actors," the agency stated.