A distribution of food and money to refugees and displaced people has turned into a drama in Diffa. According to a provisional assessment, twenty people were killed, Monday, February 17, in a stampede caused by this event in the regional capital of south-eastern Niger.
"Unfortunately, fifteen women and five children died," Issa Lémine, governor of Diffa, said on public television and visited the wounded admitted to health centers in the city. A balance sheet confirmed by humanitarian sources.
The stampede also left a dozen injured, including many children, according to television.
According to Issa Lémine, a first distribution had "ended well" the day before at the Maison des jeunes et de la culture (MJC). Monday morning, a second operation of this type was to take place in the "traditional wrestling arena" secure for the occasion. But the refugees made their way to the place of distribution the day before. "Very early, around 2 am, the women gathered in front of the MJC and at 6 am when the gate was opened, there was a general movement and many people fell and were trampled on."
Aid offered by the governor of the Nigerian state of Borno
"We were distributing food - rice, oil and clothes - and money, at the rate of 5,000 naira (Nigerian currency, or 15 euros) per person. Thousands, mostly refugees, had learned the news of the distribution and who left their camps, sometimes located a hundred kilometers to come to Diffa ", explained to Agence France Presse (AFP) a resident. "Even ordinary people in Diffa have rushed to hope for help," said another.
"Usually, it is representatives of the beneficiaries who come to seek aid from Diffa and leave to redistribute it on the sites, but this time it is the refugees themselves who decided to travel tens of kilometers to come and receive their aid "said a local representative to AFP.
The aid was offered by Babagana Umara Zulum, the governor of the Nigerian state of Borno (north-eastern Nigeria), who went on Monday to visit the sites of Nigerien refugees who fled the attacks of Boko Haram and who are settled in several areas of the Diffa region since 2015. This official had already left Diffa before the stampede, an official from Niger told AFP.
. @ ProfZulum in Niger: 30,000 women, others received foods and non-food items .. https://t.co/lnM2QOPHRX pic.twitter.com/cl1qf8eIcU- Governor Borno (@GovBorno) February 16, 2020
A country plagued by insecurity and severe flooding
The governor of Borno's visit was the first by a senior Nigerian civilian official to the region. He notably visited Bosso, Garin-Wazan and Toummour, three localities which shelter more than 100,000 refugees from Nigeria, out of a total of 300,000 throughout the region.
In addition to the insecurity linked to the regular attacks by Boko Haram, Diffa is facing serious floods caused by a flood of the Komadougou Yobé, the river which separates Niger from Nigeria, which have already made more than 20,000 people displaced. homeless, according to local authorities. The waters also devastated fields of peppers and rice, two pillars of the local economy.
In total, Niger, one of the poorest states in the world, is home to nearly 450,000 refugees (Nigerians, Malians and Burkinabé) and internally displaced people, chased by jihadist violence or armed gangs, according to the United Nations (UN) which is concerned about the lack of funds to cover all needs.
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