Over 6000 displaced Nigerians flee to Niger as military intensify offensive against Boko Haram

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday said that anti-insurgency operations and general insecurity had uprooted over 6,000 people in north-eastern Nigeria.

This is contained in a report presented in New York by the UNHCR spokesperson, Adrian Edwards.

According to the agency’s report, more than 6,000 of those affected have fled to neighbouring Niger republic for safety.

“Those that have spoken to UNCHR say they fled for fear of being caught in the government-led crackdown on insurgents linked to the Boko Haram sect, particularly in the Baga area of northern Nigeria, close to the Niger border,’’   Mr. Edwards said in the report.

He stated that “refugees reported that air strikes by government forces are continuing from time to time, and that planes are regularly flying over the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa where the state of emergency has been in force since May 14th.

“People arriving in Niger also mentioned the increasing presence of roving armed bandits in several states in Nigeria.

“The people also spoke of rising commodity prices coupled with pre-existing food insecurity which is also becoming a major concern for the populations of the affected States.”

Mr. Edwards added that Niger had so far received 6,240 refugees, comprising Nigerian nationals, returning Niger nationals and people of other nationalities.

He said that there have also been arrivals in Cameroon and Chad in the past few weeks.

“New arrivals are either renting houses or staying with host families, who are themselves living in very precarious conditions,” Mr. Edwards noted.

According to him, UNHCR member of staff who has visited several border villages hosting new arrivals also met some Nigerian families living out in the open, and some under trees.

He stated that the presence of the refugees was also putting a strain on the meagre local food and water resources.

Mr. Edwards noted that Niger, a country in the Sahel, itself struggles with food insecurity due to years of drought.

“UNHCR plans to deliver some relief to the new arrivals as well as to the host community. We are also helping the local authorities to register new arrivals,” Mr. Edwards added.

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