This is a summary of statements by UNHCR spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov – to whom the quoted text can be attributed – at today’s press conference at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, is alarmed by repeated attacks in Nigeria that forced more than 11,500 people to cross the border into neighboring Niger in November.
Armed groups, known locally as “bandits”, have repeatedly attacked villages in Sokoto State, northwestern Nigeria, in recent weeks. The violence takes place against the backdrop of intercommunal clashes between farmers and herders as competition intensifies for dwindling resources, made worse by the climate crisis.
We are deeply concerned at the outbreak of violence in northwestern Nigeria and call for concerted and massive support to address the growing humanitarian needs of the affected population, ranging from protection services to food, shelter kits, cooking utensils, blankets and other non-food items.
Most of the November arrivals have found refuge with local communities in 26 villages in Bangui, a rural commune in the Tahoua region in Niger which has already hosted 3,500 Nigerian refugees since September.
Women and children make up the majority of recent arrivals and describe killings, kidnappings for ransom and looting of their villages.
In coordination with the Nigerien authorities, UNHCR registers new arrivals, provides emergency assistance and identifies the most vulnerable. But the need for shelter, food, water and health care is increasing rapidly.
We are also strengthening local health and education infrastructure in Bangui, including the construction of latrines for 12 schools and access to water for six others. The main health center in Bangui will be connected to water and electricity and five smaller health centers will be staffed.
Niger now hosts more than 200,000 Nigerian refugees, including more than 57,000 refugees from northwestern Nigeria in the Maradi region and 15,000 in the Tahoua region.
UNHCR commends Niger as an example of solidarity and generosity in a region struggling with escalating crises. It has hosted 600,000 refugees and internally displaced people, despite violence in its border regions, economic hardship, social challenges and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The central Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are at the epicenter of one of the world’s fastest growing displacement and protection crises. More than 900,000 refugees and nearly 2.5 million internally displaced people are accommodated in the region.
UNHCR urges the international community to redouble its efforts and extend its support to Sahel states beyond security and renews its urgent appeal to warring parties in the Sahel to end the violence affecting civilians.
In Niger, humanitarian efforts to respond to the emergency are dangerously overwhelmed. The UNHCR operation, which requires $ 110.7 million for 2021, is 64% funded. Continued and increasing support is needed for UNHCR to continue providing life-saving assistance.
For more information on this topic, please contact:
In Niamey, Jean SÃ©bastien Josset, [email protected], +227 90 76 69 77
In Dakar (regional), Selim Meddeb Hamrouni, [email protected], +221 77 092 13 52
In Abuja, Roland Schoenbauer, [email protected], +234 90 10 66 46 95
In Geneva, Boris Cheshirkov, [email protected], +41 79 433 7682
In New York, Kathryn Mahoney, [email protected], +1 347 443 7646
In Paris, CÃ©line Schmitt, [email protected], +33 6 23 16 11 78