More than 30,000 Nigerians have fled to Niger’s Maradi region in the past two months, the UN Refugee Agency has said.
This follows an increase in the number of attacks by armed groups in north-western Nigeria.
“They came around 3:00 pm and started killing people. It went on until the sunset prayer. People were fleeing in all directions. We still don’t know what happened to some of the villagers”, Maigari Abara, Gangara Village Chief said.
In Nigerian refugee Habsou said “Labour was triggered by running away, stress and fear. The suffering was too much, she didn’t survive. When I found her, the child was moving but my sister was already dead.”
The UNHCR said those who fled were allowed to seek refugee in Niger despite border closures to curb the covid-19 outbreak. Syldie Bizimana is the Protection Officer with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“In the border villages, the host villages, we could not ensure the protection of these people, the management of protection cases, the follow-up of children, the follow-up of women, all the aspects of protection. It was really very difficult. Here, in the villages of opportunity, it will be really very easy with all the partners who are already working on the sites”, Bizimana said.
According to the global refugee body, refugees spoke of extreme violence unleashed against civilians, murders, kidnappings for ransom and looting of villages, particularly targeting children and women.
It also said the latest exodus has increased the number of people fleeing Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina states of Nigeria into Niger to 70,000 people.