The United Nations (UN) says around 42,000 people have fled violence committed by armed groups in border areas in northern Nigeria and the southern parts of neighboring Niger in recent weeks.
According to a statement by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday, despite border closures due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian refugees, “mainly desperate women and children,” were being allowed to seek protection in Niger.
“Ongoing violence in parts of northwestern Nigeria forced an estimated 23,000 people to seek safety and security in Niger last month,” the statement said. “Fearing and fleeing the same insecurity in the border areas, an additional 19,000 Niger nationals have become displaced inside their own country.”
The volatile border region usually sees communal clashes over land and water rights, particularly between nomadic herders and farmers.
The UN agency further revealed that the total number of Nigerian refugees fleeing that part of Nigeria had passed the 60,000 mark since the first influx in April last year.
According to the UNHCR, bloodshed in the Nigerian states of Katsina, Sokoto, and Zamfara triggered the recent influx, with the worst attack reported to have been carried out in Katsina on April 18, leaving at least 47 people dead.
“Those fleeing speak of extreme violence unleashed against civilians, murders, kidnappings for ransom and pillaging and looting of villages,” it added.
For the past decade, Nigeria has suffered from the brutal militancy of the Takfiri Boko Haram terrorist group, which has so far killed more than 27,000 people and forced some 1.8 million others to flee their homes. The terrorism has also spilled over into neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon.
In 2015, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.
By Africafrique and agencies