Niger population’s suffering ‘increasing with each passing month’: UN Refugee Agency

OCHA/Franck Kuwonu Families from Nigeria who have fled attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria, are shelteing in Diffa, Niger

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


An upsurge of violence in the south-east of Niger means that the population’s suffering is increasing “with each passing month,” a UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesperson warned on Tuesday, at a press briefing in Geneva. In March alone, some 88 civilians were reported to have died during attacks.

The spokesperson, Babar Baloch, reported a resurgence of violent attacks by terror group Boko Haram, which has been targeting security and defence forces, as well as the civilian population in the region of Diffa, near the Nigerian border.

Recent assaults have displaced more than 18,000 people, many of who are seeking safety in Diffa town. Since 2015, the region has seen almost a quarter of a million people forcibly displaced, almost half of whom are refugees from Nigeria who had fled similar attacks and sought refuge across the border.

At the same time, because of the fear of increasing insecurity in the Diffa region, some people are moving in the opposite direction, heading across the border into Nigeria, including the towns of Damasak and Maiduguri, in search of humanitarian assistance.

UNHCR, said the spokesperson, is working with the government of Niger and humanitarian partners to immediately relocate some 10,000 refugees from locations close to the border, to the Sayam Forage refugee camp, which is already hosting more than 15,000 refugees. The Refugee Agency has mobilized psychosocial support workers to respond to the immediate needs of the newly displaced who are highly traumatized, in particular women and children.

Mr. Baloch said that, despite the tense security situation, UNHCR continues to work with the authorities and partners to provide immediate support to refugees and host communities as well as work on long-term recovery and development initiatives in the Diffa region.

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