Thousands continue to flee Boko Haram attacks on Niger town
June 8, Abuja: Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in south-east Niger following near back-to-back attacks since this past Friday by Boko Haram insurgents on the town of Bosso in the troubled Diffa region.
The United Nations refugee agency said that the attacks occurred on Friday, 3 June; Sunday, 5 June; and Monday, 6 June.
“As of this morning, the situation in Bosso is unclear,” spokesperson Adrian Edwards of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told the regular bi-weekly news briefing in Geneva, recalling that UNHCR had warned this past month that the security and humanitarian situation was worsening in the Diffa region.
The most recent attacks follow rising violence in and around Bosso in recent weeks. An assault on 31 May in the nearby town of Yebi that killed nine people forced an estimated 15,000 residents and displaced people to seek shelter in Bosso. Many had been evacuated a year ago from islands in Lake Chad for security reasons, the spokesperson noted.
An estimated 50,000 people fled Friday’s attack, mainly walking westward to Toumour, some 30 kilometres west of Bosso. Many people are traumatized and worried about their safety, and some are sleeping in the open and urgently need shelter and other assistance, Mr. Edwards said.
Some of the displaced have moved on from Toumour and are heading to the town of Diffa, which is located 140 kilometres west of Bosso, and northward towards Kabelawa, where a camp for the internally displaced is near capacity with some 10,000 people.
There are at least 240,000 displaced people in Diffa region, including Nigerian refugees, returnees and the internally displaced. Before the latest attack on Bosso, one in every three inhabitants of the Diffa region was forcibly displaced.
Since February 2015, UNHCR has been providing protection and assistance to the displaced in Bosso through local and international non-governmental partners.
The attacks on Bosso came just ahead of the start of a high-level meeting from Monday to Wednesday in Abuja to discuss the major protection challenges in the Lake Chad basin, including Niger.
Organized by the Government of Nigeria, with technical support from UNHCR, the dialogue participants include senior officials from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
The Oslo Times