Nigeria: 60,000 people fled violence in Niger in one year

View of Maradi, third city of Niger. Many Nigerians have found refuge there for a year. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

Text by: Moïse Gomis Follow

The persistent violence in north-western Nigeria forced approximately 23,000 people to flee to Niger in search of safety during the month of April 2020 alone. This is the warning cry launched by the High Commissioner for Refugees, worried about a latent humanitarian crisis.


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From our correspondent in Abuja

This latest influx brings to more than 60,000 the total number of refugees who have fled this region of Nigeria to their neighbor since the very first exodus in April 2019. These people seeking protection are allowed to enter Niger despite the closure borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to testimonies collected by the United Nations Refugee Agency, it was insecurity that made last month the 23,000 people flee from northwestern Nigeria to Niger. These refugees are mainly women and children. They are from the states of Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina.

These fleeing refugees recount the incessant attacks carried out by criminal groups in these three states. Attacks that have lasted for several months. Witnesses report in particular extreme violence against civilians, killings, kidnappings for ransom and looting of villages.

Many say they were afraid of being trapped in the face of the Nigerian army's response. Its aviation still last April having bombed in the state of Katsina presumed positions of these armed groups, still according to the testimonies of refugees. These bombings could explain the panic, then the movement of these 23,000 people towards Niger.

UNHCR is concerned about this recent influx around Maradi in Niger, an area close to the border where essential infrastructure and services are lacking.

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