United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’s spokesperson, Babar Baloch has revealed that 23,000 Nigerians are currently seeking safety and security in Niger due to the prevalent violence in areas of Northwestern Nigeria. Baloch stated this at during a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva yesterday.
He said the total number of refugees that have migrated to Niger from Northern Nigeria has surpassed 60,000 since the first set of refugees migrated in April 2019. His statement said: “Since April 2019, people have fled relentless attacks by armed groups in the Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina States of Nigeria. Most found refuge in Niger’s Maradi region.”
The UN Refugee Agency voiced out concerns about bad state of security in Nigeria and the risk associated with armed incursions spreading into Niger. The agency said the latest influx of refugees comprises desperate women and children who fled Nigeria following attacks in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara States in April 2020 which claimed 47 lives in Danmusa, Dusi-ma and Kankara Local Government Areas in Katsina State and instigated airstrikes by the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The statement said: “Those fleeing speak of extreme violence unleashed against civilians, murders, kidnappings for ransom and pillaging and looting of villages.
“Refugees from Nigeria are being allowed to seek protection in Niger despite border closures due to COVID-19. New arrivals are in urgent need of water, food and access to health services, as well as shelter and clothing. Many were barely able to carry anything in the rush to save lives.”
“Many have also been caught up in the clashes reported being blamed on farmers and herders of different ethnic groups as well as vigilantism. Some 95 per cent of the refugees have come from Nigeria’s Sokoto state, rest from Kano, Zamfara and Katsina States.”