Niger: Nigerian refugee numbers increase
23-12-2013 Operational Update
People fleeing the conflict in north-east Nigeria continue to arrive in the Diffa area, in south-easternmost Niger, where the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Red Cross Society of Niger are working to help thousands of people.
Diffa Commune. A displaced woman is checked off a list of beneficiaries before receiving food aid for her family. ©ICRC/H. Abdoulmoumouni
"After something of a lull, we have been seeing further population movements in the area,” said Pascal Porchet, deputy head of the ICRC delegation in Niger. “At least 450 people have arrived in Diffa district alone over the past few days."
The displaced people and the host communities are also facing problems caused by the flooding of the Komadougou Yobé River, actually an arm of Lake Chad. The recent floods have destroyed many homes, schools and health-care centres and affected large areas of farmland.
The situation was worrying, Porchet said. In addition to the floods, thousands of displaced people had arrived in the area in just a few months, and poor security conditions had led to a sharp fall in trade with Nigeria. This had aggravated the region’s isolation and caused a leap in the prices of basic necessities.
On top of all this, according to estimates published by the Niger government, crop and livestock figures for the year were poorer in the Diffa area than in the rest of the country.
Aid continues for people fleeing Nigeria
Last week, the Niger Red Cross and the ICRC distributed two-month food rations to some 7,500 people (displaced persons, refugees and returnees) in the districts of Diffa, Toumour, Nguelkolo and Chetimari.
"This relief is vital to these people, who have no other means of meeting their food needs," explained Jean-Pierre Nereyabagabo, who coordinates ICRC food relief in Niger.
In addition to this emergency aid, there are also initiatives aimed at making the displaced people less dependent on humanitarian aid. One involves distributing seeds to around a hundred families in Bosso and Tchoukoudjani, to enable them to grow vegetables.
Support for displaced Fulani nomads
Chetimari Commune. Women fetching water at a fountain set up by the ICRC in a displaced camp where flood victims have taken refuge. ©ICRC/I. Keita
Among the people originally from Niger who have fled the violence in Nigeria are some 1,600 Fulani nomads belonging to the Wodaabe group. They have been receiving regular aid from the ICRC since November 2012.
"They’ve been forced to flee from Nigeria where they settled over a decade ago, often leaving everything behind," Nereyabagabo explained. "When they returned to Niger, they struggled to rebuild their lives and were living in difficult conditions on the outskirts of Diffa. They depended mainly on the monthly ICRC food aid to survive."
In order to help these people restore their livelihoods, the ICRC is supporting the efforts of the local authorities to relocate them to Modi Wakil, 30 km from Diffa, in Gueskerou district. On 22 November, some 275 Fulani Wodaabe families were able to move to their new village, where the ICRC has already built a well.
Two-month food rations have been distributed to families to get them started. Meanwhile, the ICRC is distributing 900 goats, at least three per household, to enable the nomads to build up their livestock again.
Niger Red Cross helps flood victims
More than 3,000 people affected by the floods received rapid help from the Niger Red Cross in Kessa Kandila, Ajeri, Rouda and Kouloukoura (Chetimari and Diffa districts).
Three hundred and fifty relief parcels, containing tarpaulins, cooking utensils, mosquito nets and clothes, were delivered to flood victims, along with food rations for a month. Work being carried out by the ICRC to construct six water points equipped with manual pumps is now nearing completion. These new facilities will ensure permanent access to drinking water and reduce health risks. One hundred and fifty water treatment kits have also been distributed.
For further information:
Pascal Porchet, ICRC Niamey, tel: : +227 99 41 50 71
David-Pierre Marquet, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2502