Nigerian refugees in ‘atrocious’ situation in Niger: UN
Thousands of Nigerian refugees who fled to southeast Niger
to escape the Islamist group Boko Haram are in an
“atrocious” situation, the United Nations says.
“There is a psychosis among the people who were
expelled from their villages, their homes by Boko
Haram. It’s an atrocious situation.” Toby Lanzer, UN
regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, told
AFP on Wednesday during a visit to Assaga, one of
the largest Nigerian refugee camps in southeast
The camp, which has around 6,000 people, is about 10
kilometres (six miles) from the regional capital of Diffa, near
the Boko Haram stronghold of restive northeast Nigeria.
who are almost without hope,” Lanzer said. They
were “living peacefully” when “all of a sudden, the
Boko Haram arrive, force them out of their villages,
steal their cattle,” he said. “I’ll make a very strong
plea next week at the UN General Assembly and tell
donors, ‘We really must help the people of Diffa’,”
Lanzer said, as he paid tribute to UN agencies
deployed in Niger.
In the Assaga camp, set up by the UN three months ago,
many refugees live in abject poverty and sleep in makeshift
shelters at the mercy of mosquitoes and bad weather, an
AFP reporter saw.
and tents and regularly receive food rations, but more
recent arrivals say they have not yet received any help at
“I have not eaten for days,” Mohamed Ari
complained to AFP. Lanzer was visiting to assess
the humanitarian situation in the Diffa region, which
has been weakened by successive years of drought
and flood and already hosts more than 150,000
refugees who fled the violence in Nigeria since April
2013, according to the Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Niamey.
Since February 2015, Diffa has suffered several deadly
attacks in Boko Haram raids from neighbouring Lake Chad.
In six years of bloodshed, the Boko Haram insurgency to
carve out an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has left at
least 15,000 dead and left more than two million others