The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has expressed concerns over the deteriorating state of security, especially in the north-western part of Nigeria.
According to the UN agency, the rising spate of insecurity has forced an estimated 20,000 Nigerians to seek safety and security in Niger Republic since April.
In a statement on Tuesday signed by its spokesman, Babar Baloch, the UN Refugee Agency said it was working closely with authorities in Niger to provide basic assistance, as well as register the new arrivals as over 18,000 people have already gone through the initial registration process so far.
He said the latest upsurge in violence in the north-western part of Nigeria is not only linked to Boko Haram but multiple reasons, including clashes between farmers and herders of different ethnic groups and many more.
The statement reads, “Recent spike in violence in north-western parts of Nigeria has forced an estimated 20,000 people to seek safety and security in Niger since April.
“People are reportedly fleeing due to multiple reasons, including clashes between farmers and herders of different ethnic groups, vigilantism, as well as kidnappings for ransom in Nigeria’s Sokoto and Zamfara States.
“People leaving Nigeria, and arriving in Niger’s Maradi Region, speak of witnessing extreme violence unleashed against civilians, including machete attacks, kidnappings and sexual violence. The majority of the new arrivals are women and children.
He noted that the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency has already spilled over into Niger, where it has affected its Diffa region since 2015, adding that Niger has continued to be a leading regional example in providing safety to refugees fleeing conflict and persecution in many countries.
“The region currently hosts almost 250,000 displaced people – including refugees from Nigeria and locals being displaced inside their own country.
“Niger continues to be a leading regional example in providing safety to refugees fleeing conflict and persecution in many countries. It has kept its borders open for refugees despite the ongoing violence in several regions bordering Nigeria, Mali and recently Burkina Faso.
“Many of the newly arrived are located very close to the Nigerian border, where there remains a high risk of armed incursions. UNHCR with sister UN agencies and partners is discussing with the government the possibility of relocating them into local towns and villages further in land.
“As well as providing aid to Nigerian new arrivals, UNHCR also plans to support host families, who despite lack of adequate resources and access to basic services, have always shown solidarity towards the displaced and welcomed people into their homes.
“Since the beginning of 2018, violence within the Diffa region perpetrated by elements of Boko Haram has also significantly escalated with a record number of civilian casualties and unprecedented secondary movements within the region.”
Baloch revealed that Niger is currently hosting over 380,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Mali and Nigeria as well as its own internally displaced population, adding that the country has also provided refuge to some 2,782 asylum seekers airlifted from insecurity in Libya, while awaiting durable solutions.c