Boko Haram crisis: 6,000 flee to Niger, Nigerians living under trees – UNHCR report

by Rachel Ogbu

Nigerians gathered to register as refugees in Bosso, Niger (photo: Punch)
Nigerians gathered to register as refugees in Bosso, Niger (photo: Punch)

About 6,000 people including the elderly, women and children have been reported displaced following the military onslaught against members of  Islamist militant sects,  Boko Haram and the al Qaeda-linked Ansaru.

More Nigerians have fled to Niger Republic to flee their war torn homes.

In a new report presented in New York, United States on Tuesday, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees through its spokesperson, Adrian Edwards said:

“Those who spoke to UNHCR say they escaped for fear of being caught in the government-led crackdown,” Reuters quoted him as saying. He also said that Nigerians refugees in Niger was “putting a strain on meager local food and water resources” on the country which “struggles with food insecurity due to years of drought.”

The “refugees are either renting houses or staying with host families, who are themselves living in very precarious conditions,” he said adding that more Nigerian had fled to  Cameroon and Chad  in the past few weeks.

Edward painted an awful picture of  Nigerian families living out in the open  and some under trees but maintained that the agency plans to deliver some relief to the refugees and their host communities and would help the Nigerien authorities to register the refugees.

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The report also read in part,

That the Nigerian “refugees reported that air strikes by government forces are continuing from time to time, and that planes are regularly flying over the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa where a  state of emergency has been in force since May 14.”

“People arriving in Niger also mentioned the increasing presence of roving armed bandits in several states in Nigeria. The people also spoke of rising commodity prices coupled with pre-existing food insecurity which is also becoming  a major concern for the populations of the affected states.”

The Punch report:

Nigerian forces are engaged in a  four- week-old operation to regain territory from fighters loyal to   Boko Haram. The soldiers claim that   they had  destroyed key  Boko Haram bases and arrested more than 150 suspected insurgents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

The military was not immediately available for comment, but in a statement on FridayDefence Headquarters Spokesman,  Brig -Gen. Chris Olukolade,  denied a report that Nigerian refugees were “pouring into” Niger.

This was even as  the National Emergency Management Agency  said it was responding to the humanitarian needs of the displaced Nigerians in Niger Republic to to alleviate their conditions.

It  said the basic needs  were identified by a special assessment carried out by its team  that was dispatched to the   Niger Republic to ascertain the conditions of Nigerians that had crossed over the border into the country.

Meanwhile, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary- General  for West Africa,  Mr. Said Djinnit,  has tasked West African countries  to collaborate and tackle terrorism in the sub-region.

Djinnit, who is also the Chairman, Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission, observed that the threat of extremism and terrorism is affecting all West African countries and the Africa continent in general.

He said this on Tuesday in Abuja when he paid a visit to the Minister of State for Defence , Mrs. Olusola Obada, in her office.

The Special Representative said the visit was to explore how he could work closely with  ECOWAS and its leaders in stabilising the region and creating conditions for peace.

He said, “The threat of extremism or terrorism is affecting all  the  countries in West Africa and  Africa in general. So there is need for a general effort. This should be a national effort, though Nigeria is putting its own effort but we need to mobilise the entire region to work together to address the root cause of the problem, address the concern and challenge in a coordinated manner within the framework of the existing plan of action with ECOWAS, African Union and the UN.”

Djinnt said Nigeria was faced with a big challenge and it was the responsibility of the government  to ensure the safety of its  citizens.

According to him, this should be done by taking into account the issue of human rights, adding that he was sure the government was aware of that.

He commended Nigeria for the role it had been playing in the Gulf of Guinea in the fight against piracy.

The envoy said that he was aware that there were agreements and security arrangements between Nigeria and Cameroon.

“I encourage both countries to work closely in addressing common security threats at their common borders, especially  in the context of the growing pressure put by the extremist and terrorist groups in the border  Sahel region which has affected Nigeria and other countries,” Djinnt stated.

In her remarks, Obada said the relationship that existed  between Nigeria and Cameroon dated back to 1960s and was anchored on affinities and shared destiny.

According to her, presently, there are over four million Nigerians living in Cameroon, which makes it the biggest host of Nigerians in the Diaspora.

Also on Tuesday, the President of the Senate,  David Mark,  assured that terrorism  would soon be history in Nigeria.

He gave the assurance while meeting with the presiding officers of  the Czech Republic Parliament on Tuesday.

Mark,  who is on a visit to the country,  said the operations against insurgents in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states would bring  terrorism to an end in Nigeria.

He said, “The operation is being handled well and sooner than later,  terrorism will soon become part of our history.  We are conscious that fighting terror is difficult because of factors that dwell on human rights and collateral damages. But the operators of emergency that has been introduced in the area will bring terrorism to its end.”

Mark noted that Nigeria had played the role of ensuring stability in Africa  and added that  it ( Nigeria) had always been a home to all Africans.

He expressed regrets however that the nation came under attacks from misguided extremists.

“This trend became escalated by the situation in Mali, Niger, Libya and Chad but the Federal Government tried to curtail this through appeal and other carrot approaches but this did not quite succeed until the introduction of emergency rule,” Mark said.

He told the Czech parliamentarians that the National Assembly would  continue to create legislative instruments that would  deepen democracy in Nigeria.

Earlier the President of the Czech Parliament, Mr.  Milan. Stech, sympathised with the Nigerian government over the Boko Haram attacks.


Comments (3)

  1. i like the story of boko haram.let kill them all and let peace rain

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