from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – A SPREE of killings, kidnappings and looting by so-called bandits has forced 11 500 Nigerians to flee to neighbouring Niger.
The armed groups have repeatedly attacked villages in Sokoto State northwest of the country in recent weeks.
The violence comes against the backdrop of inter-communal clashes between farmers and herders as competition increases for dwindling resources, aggravated by the climate crisis.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is alarmed.
“We are deeply concerned by the surging violence in northwest Nigeria,” said UNHCR spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov.
He called for support to address the growing humanitarian needs of the affected population, ranging from protection services to food, shelter kits, kitchen utensils, blankets and other non-food items.
Most of the November arrivals have taken shelter with local communities in 26 villages across Bangui, a rural commune in Niger’s Tahoua region which was already hosting 3 500 Nigerian refugees since September.
Women and children make up the majority of the recent arrivals and according to UNHCR describe killings, kidnappings for ransom and the looting of their villages.
The Central Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger are at the epicentre of one of world’s fastest-growing displacement and protection crises. More than 900 000 refugees and nearly 2,5 million internally displaced people are hosted in the region.
– CAJ News