UNHCR – Murders, kidnappings and looting force 11,500 Nigerians to flee to Niger

A Nigerian refugee and her child, fleeing attacks, sought refuge in Bangui, a village in the Madawa department in the Tahua region of Niger. © UNHCR/Bubacar Yunussa Siddo

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, is concerned about repeated attacks in Nigeria that forced more than 11,500 people to cross the border into neighboring Niger in November.

In recent weeks, armed groups known locally as “bandits” have repeatedly attacked villages in the state of Sokoto in northwestern Nigeria. This violence is part of the context of inter-communal clashes between farmers and pastoralists, with increased competition for dwindling resources, a phenomenon exacerbated by the climate crisis.

We are deeply concerned about the surge in violence in northwest Nigeria and call for concerted and large-scale support to meet the growing humanitarian needs of the affected population, from protection services to food. The affected population also needs shelter, kitchen utensils, blankets and other non-food items.

Most of those who arrived in November have taken refuge in local communities in 26 villages in Bangui, a rural community in Nigeria’s Tahua region that has already taken in 3,500 Nigerian refugees since September.

Women and children make up the majority of the recent arrivals and report murders, kidnappings for ransom and looting of their villages.

In cooperation with the Nigerian authorities, UNHCR registers new arrivals, provides emergency assistance and identifies the most vulnerable. But the need for housing, food, water and medical care is growing rapidly.

We are also strengthening the local health and education infrastructure in Bangui, including the construction of toilets for 12 schools and access to water for six other schools. The main health center in Bangui will be connected to water and electricity, while five smaller health centers will be staffed.

There are currently over 200,000 Nigerian refugees in Niger, including over 57,000 northwestern Nigerian refugees in the Maradi region and 15,000 in the Tahua region.

UNHCR hails Niger as an example of solidarity and generosity in a region battling a growing crisis. The country is hosting 600,000 refugees and internally displaced persons despite border violence, economic hardships, social problems and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Central Sahel countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are at the epicenter of one of the fastest growing displacement and protection crises in the world. The region hosts over 900,000 refugees and almost 2.5 million internally displaced persons.

UNHCR calls on the international community to intensify its efforts and support for the Sahelian states, beyond security issues, and reiterates its strong appeal to the warring parties in the Sahel to end the violence affecting civilians.

In Niger, humanitarian efforts to respond to the emergency are largely thwarted by the current situation. The UNHCR operation, which requires $110.7 million for 2021, is 64% funded. Continued and growing support is needed so that UNHCR can continue to provide vital assistance.

For more information on this subject, please contact:

  • In Niamey, Jean Sebastien Josset [email protected]+227 90 76 69 77
  • In Dakar (regional) Selim Meddeb Hamrouni, [email protected]+221 77 092 13 52
  • In Abuja, Roland Schönbauer, [email protected]+234 90 10 66 46 95
  • In Geneva, Boris Cheshirkov, [email protected]+41 79 433 7682
  • In New York, Katherine Mahoney [email protected]+1 347 443 7646
  • Celine Schmitt in Paris [email protected]+33 6 23 16 11 78

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