Violence in north-western Nigeria in April led 23,000 people to flee to Niger, and 19,000 Nigerians to move inside their country, the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR).

"Continued violence in northwestern Nigeria forced an estimated 23,000 people to flee to Niger in the month of April alone. The latest influx brings the total number of refugees who have fled this region to over 60,000. for neighboring Niger "since April 2019, said UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch, quoted in the organization's press release.

Briefed @UNGeneva based journalists on newly arriving refugees from Nigeria 🇳🇬 to Niger 🇳🇪. More than 23,000 people have crossed the border to save their lives. More here

- Babar Baloch (@iBabarBaloch) May 12, 2020

"Fearing and fleeing this same insecurity in border areas, another group of 19,000 nationals from Niger has been forced to move inside Niger," he adds.

A majority of women and children

These refugees and internally displaced persons, "mainly desperate women and children (...), flee the constant attacks carried out by armed groups in the states of Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina in Nigeria, and they find refuge in the Maradi region "In central southern Niger, according to the UNHCR, which stresses that the refugees have been" allowed to enter Niger despite the border closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic ".

Latest: Nigeria violence force 23,000 refugees into Niger in 1 month - UNHCR @iBabarBaloch briefs @UNGeneva based press

- UNHCR News (@RefugeesMedia) May 12, 2020

Forty-seven people were killed in motorcycle gang attacks on five villages in northern Nigeria's Katsina state on April 18. According to the police, these are criminal gangs specializing in the theft of cattle and kidnapping for ransom.

"Refugees on the run witness extreme violence against civilians, killings, kidnappings for ransom and looting of villages," says UNHCR, saying it is "concerned about the deterioration of security inside Nigeria and the risk of armed incursions into Niger ".

Jihadists in the Lake Chad region

This violence is in addition to that of the jihadist armed groups operating in the Lake Chad region, said the UNHCR.

The Diffa region, located in south-eastern Niger, close to Nigeria, the scene of constant attacks by Nigerian jihadists from Iswap (Islamic State in West Africa) and Boko Haram, is home to more than 300,000 Nigerian refugees and internally displaced persons.

>> Read also: "In Niger, deadly jihadist attack at the gates of Diffa"

In the Tillabéri and Tahoua regions in western Niger, where Sahel jihadist groups are rife, including the Islamic State in the Grand Sahara (EIGS), some 80,000 people have been forced to move.

In total, Niger is home to nearly 500,000 refugees (Nigerians, Malians and Burkinabé) and internally displaced people, chased by jihadist violence or armed gangs, according to a recent UN report, which is concerned about the lack of funds for cover all needs. Some refugees and displaced people live in the midst of an already very poor population.

The center of the Sahel is affected by jihadist violence, often intertwined with inter-community conflicts, which left 4,000 dead in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in 2019, according to the UN.

With AFP

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