Nigerian refugees in ‘atrocious’ situation in Niger: UN

Thousands of Nigerian refugees who fled to
southeast Niger to escape the Islamist group
Boko Haram are in an “atrocious” situation,
the United Nations says.
“There is a psychosis among the
people who were expelled from their
villages, their homes by Boko Haram.
It’s an atrocious situation.” Toby
Lanzer, UN regional humanitarian
coordinator for the Sahel, told AFP on
Wednesday during a visit to Assaga,
one of the largest Nigerian refugee
camps in southeast Niger.
The camp, which has around 6,000 people, is
about 10 kilometres (six miles) from the
regional capital of Diffa, near the Boko
Haram stronghold of restive northeast
Nigeria.
“This is a very acute security crisis for
those people, who are almost without
hope,” Lanzer said. They were “living
peacefully” when “all of a sudden, the
Boko Haram arrive, force them out of
their villages, steal their cattle,” he
said. “I’ll make a very strong plea next
week at the UN General Assembly and
tell donors, ‘We really must help the
people of Diffa’,” Lanzer said, as he
paid tribute to UN agencies deployed
in Niger.
In the Assaga camp, set up by the UN three
months ago, many refugees live in abject
poverty and sleep in makeshift shelters at
the mercy of mosquitoes and bad weather,
an AFP reporter saw. The first refugees were
given tarpaulins and tents and regularly
receive food rations, but more recent
arrivals say they have not yet received any
help at all.
“I have not eaten for days,” Mohamed
Ari complained to AFP. Lanzer was
visiting to assess the humanitarian
situation in the Diffa region, which has
been weakened by successive years of
drought and flood and already hosts
more than 150,000 refugees who fled
the violence in Nigeria since April
2013, according to the Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA) in Niamey.
Since February 2015, Diffa has suffered
several deadly attacks in Boko Haram raids
from neighbouring Lake Chad. In six years of
bloodshed, the Boko Haram insurgency to
carve out an Islamic state in northeast
Nigeria has left at least 15,000 dead and left
more than two million others homeless.
Source -AFP

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