ABUJA, 5 March 2021 – Nearly 8,000 refugees fleeing violence in Nigeria are confronted by the same levels of violence in their new host communities in Niger, the United Nations refugee agency said Thursday.
“Most of the refugees are women and children, displaced by recent attacks in Nigeria’s Sokoto state,” said Boris Cheshirkov, a spokesperson for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
Some 7,660 Nigerian refugees have moved into Niger’s southern region of Maradi since the beginnig of 2021, according to UNHCR data.
According to the UN refugee agency, most of the refugees are women and children, displaced following recent attacks in Nigeria’s Sokoto state.
The surging violence in northwestern Nigerian states bordering Niger is fueling the spike in displacement into Maradi region, where violence is, sadly, also on the rise, the UNHCR said in a statement.
Refugees describe gruesome murders, kidnappings for ransom, and looted villages.
According to the UNHCR, many refugees “have also been caught up in clashes between farmers and herders as well as vigilantism, as self-defense groups are being set up in most villages”.
“People fleeing are in urgent need of water, food, shelter, and health services. Most have fled empty handed in the rush to save their lives,” the UN refugee agency said in a statement.
Refugee camps in the Maradi region host nearly 100,000 displaced people.
They include nearly 77,000 Nigerians who have fled armed attacks by insurgents and Boko Haram militants in the northern Nigerian states of Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara..
The UNHCR says another 3,500 citizens of Niger have been displaced inside the country.
More than a million people have been internally displaced or have been forced to flee into refugee camps in other parts of the Sahel Region as well as into the neighboring Lake Chad Basin.
The UNCHR, which has commended the generosity of the government of Niger and host communities across the country, calls the unfolding in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions the world’s “fastest-growing displacement and protection cases”.