More than 36,000 refugees flee to Niger this yr

More than 36,000 new refugees arrived in Niger between January and mid-April following violence in Mali, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, bringing their numbers to round 360,000, the UN refugee company mentioned Wednesday.

The High Commissioner for Refugees “is concerned by these rising numbers as attacks on civilians prompting displacement increase in both frequency and violence,” the UNHCR mentioned.

“I’m afraid that we will be getting regular influxes into Niger for as long as there is trouble in the countries surrounding us,” it quoted Emmanuel Gignac, the UNHCR’s consultant in Niger, as saying. 

The new arrivals from Mali are fleeing clashes between the Islamic State within the Greater Sahara and the Touarag Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) within the northern areas of Gao and Menaka, the UNHCR mentioned.

“Nigerian refugees are fleeing increased looting, expropriation of property, assault and kidnapping by armed bandits in the states of Katsina and Sokoto, in the northwest of their country, while displacement from Burkina Faso is caused by ongoing and spreading insecurity,” it mentioned.

“The refugees, who are mostly women and children, need shelter, food and water, non-food items and access to basic services such as healthcare and education,” the company mentioned. 

“The fact that they are arriving and settling in some of Niger’s driest areas makes their situation even more precarious,” it mentioned.

“Food prices have risen dramatically in Niger and the ongoing food security crisis triggered by a poor 2021 farming season is putting further at risk already vulnerable refugees and local communities alike.”

Some 580,000 forcibly displaced folks, together with 360,000 refugees from neighbouring nations, stay in Niger.

Niger, particularly its western half, is affected by a grave meals disaster attributable to drought and jihadist violence that has prevented peasants from cultivating their fields, in keeping with the UN and the Nigerien authorities.

The unstable areas of Tahou and Tillaberi — within the tri-border area between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger — have since 2017 seen lethal assaults linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, which can be very energetic in Mali et au Burkina Faso.

The southeast of Niger, particularly the Diffa border area with Nigeria, is prey to assaults from the Nigerian jihadist teams Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).

During a go to Tuesday and Wednesday to Niger and Nigeria, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres promised refugees and the internally displaced of each nations that they may depend on him to foyer for elevated worldwide assist.

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