Friday, March 6, 2015

Boko Haram violence causing worsening refugee crisis for Nigeria

The ongoing attacks from Islamist militant group Boko Haram in northern Nigeria have caused a large influx of people into neighbouring countries and other parts of Nigeria.

The total number of people displaced has reached 1.2 million, according to the latest figures from Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), IRIN reports. Even this figure is likely to be an underestimate, as the agency's access to the region was limited.

Those displaced are largely from the three states in the northeast that have been targeted most by Boko Haram militants – Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

Last month the United Nations reported that the violence, which has now spilled over into neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger, had forced people to flee into dangerous territories on the Cameroonian border.

The UN refugee agency estimates that there are more than 100,000 Nigerian refugees in Niger and 66,000 in Cameroon. It is also thought that about 18,000 people have fled to Chad, 15,000 of whom have arrived since early January.

Both northern Nigeria and the areas where refugees have fled are struggling with food insecurity. Diffa in Niger, which saw a significant increase in refugees at the end of last year, has struggled with drought for many years, but the influx of people has put additional pressure on local supplies.

The World Food Programme estimated in November that around 53 per cent of displaced households were in need of food assistance, a figure that may now be much higher. 

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