Maradi: a concerning new emergency situation on the Niger-Nigerian border
A sudden rise in fierce violence in Nigeria’s North-Western Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina States has led to a new emergency situation in Niger’s Maradi Region. Thousands of people, mainly women and children, have crossed the border into Niger, fleeing extreme violence. This includes indiscriminate attacks, kidnappings, extortion, murder, sexual violence and destruction of houses and property. They have found refuge in villages nearby the Nigerian border in Niger’s Maradi Region. The entry points are the villages of Bassira, Tankama, Chawagui and Dan Kano. The refugee population is scattered in some 40 villages along the border, in the departments of Guidam Roumji, Guidan Sori and Tibiri.
The cause of displacement is not related to the Boko Haram insurgency currently operating in Nigeria’s North Eastern states. This latter situation has led to the arrival of 120,000 Nigerian refugees and 18,000 Nigerien returnees to Niger, as well as the internal displacement of 108,000 people in Diffa region. This new situation finds its roots in a dramatic increase in structural tensions between farmers and pastoralists, Haoussa and Fulani, in North Western Nigeria, combined with a rapid increase in criminal acts such as cattle theft and armed banditry. Ongoing military operations are not able to halt the violence of organized groups of bandits. Some Nigerian traditional authorities have also complained about civilian casualties as a result of increased military presence.
Currently, there is no tangible humanitarian presence nor institutional response in Nigeria due to insecurity.
35,055 persons have gone through the initial registration process carried out by UNHCR and the Government. Due to continuous insecurity across the border and considering the porosity of the border, new waves of displacement will likely erupt. Furthermore, potential attacks on the Nigerien side of the border could lead to internal displacement in addition to cross-border displacement.
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees