Violence spreading from NE Nigeria into Chad, Cameroon and Niger
Violence is spreading from north-east Nigeria into neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger, exacerbating the refugee exodus across the region, said said the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Friday.
“In Niger, fighting broke out last week between the Niger armed forces and Nigerian insurgents in the town of Bosso, which is located near Lake Chad in the southern region of Diffa. This has been followed by a series of attacks in Diffa town against civilians, including by suicide bombers. With fear and panic spreading fast, large parts of the population of Diffa are moving further west, towards the city of Zinder,” said UNHCR.
Boko Haram attacks against Diffa and Bosso, both located about 1,300km south of the capital, Niamey, prompted the Niger government to declare a state of emergency in the southeast.
Diffa is a city and Urban Commune in SE Niger, near that border with Nigeria, with a population of about 50,000 in 2011.
“W fear that the scale of displacement is high: Prior to the attacks Diffa had a population of 50,000 – today the town is virtually empty,” a spokesperson for UNHCR told reporters.
He warned that there are serious shortages of food and clean water, across the region.
“This situation is being further exacerbated, as shops remain closed and humanitarian actors have had to significantly reduce their activities in the Diffa region because of the general insecurity. At present there are no humanitarian actors left in Bosso,” he said.
In May 2013, the Nigerian government declared a state of emergency in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, and more than 157,000 people fled the country including at least 100,000 people who crossed the border into Niger.
[An additional 1 million people are internally displaced inside Nigeria, according to the country’s National Emergency Management Agency.]
“We are extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation, as several thousand people are at present without any assistance. We are working with authorities to securely deploy aid workers as soon as possible and at the same time we are preparing for rapid evaluation and response assessments,” the UNHCR spokesman said.
“In Cameroon, the situation is as worrying,” he added, citing reports of killings, abductions and violence in the country’s Far North region near the border with Nigeria. There are more than 40,000 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon.
In Chad, some 3,000 Nigerian refugees were registered as of the end of last year. A further 15,000 have fled into Chad since to escape attacks in and around the north-east Nigerian town of Bagakawa.