Boko Haram violence causes mass displacements into Niger

A group of refugees in Diffa, Niger, after fleeing Boko Haram violence in Nigeria. Photo: OCHA/Franck Kuwonu

Niger has faced a continuous influx of people crossing the border since fighting broke out in Northern Nigeria, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).

Neighbouring countries like Cameroon and Chad are also forced to host these refugees, straining what little resources they had in their communities.

The nutritional state of the children is of particular concern, the agency warns.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

Scores of women and children have been pouring into Niger, Cameroon and Chad, fleeing violence by armed groups in Northern Nigeria.

WFP has been increasing aid in all three countries but insecurity makes it difficult to reach people in remote areas.

Antonio Avella is the Deputy Country Director for WFP Niger.

“There has been fierce fighting and the challenge is how to reach people that are camping there. We know already there are more than 10 thousand refugees and displaced people waiting for the food assistance that was due this week. I think, the situation is becoming even more challenging as we have no possibility to reach Bosso.”

The agency seeks to reach 238,000 people with food assistance over 12 months.

Nigeria refugees in the three West African countries are receiving food aid, but also the internally displaced populations and returnees in the host countries.

Poor people whose access to food has been made worse by the crisis are also receiving assistance.

Antonio Avella again:

“In response to this unfolding humanitarian crisis, WFP is scaling up its operation, the situation is critical and alarming if you consider that 1 in every 2 persons crossing the border is food insecure and 1 out of 3 children is malnourished.”

WFP is providing food baskets to all but with special nutritious food for young children, pregnant and nursing mothers.

Niger has the highest number of refugees and returnees of the three countries.

The second half of 2014 saw a major increase of new arrivals in Diffa region like Fanna, a refugee woman from northern Nigeria and her daughter.

“We were invaded by Boko Haram I heard gunshots and I stepped out of my house, I saw two dead bodies so I grabbed my baby and ran.”

Fanna like many other refugees do not live in camps. The host communities have opened up their courtyards and have allowed the exiles to build shacks.

In October, only 15,000 people crossed the border.

The total estimated number now stands at 125,000 people spread out over more than 140 sites and villages.

The cost of the regional emergency operation until the end of this year reaches over USD 50 million.

Duration: 2'49"


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