The UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs has registered 37,332 people fleeing the fighting between the Nigerian security services and jihadist insurgents called Boko Haram. According to the UN, the refugees have been registered at Diffa, in southeast Niger. The flow of refugees into Niger has increased sixfold since the Abuja government declared a state of emergency in Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa states in June this year.
The UN reports that of the 37,332 registered, more than 29,000 are Nigerien nationals living in Nigeria. Many are women and children.
The border between Nigeria and Niger is largely open, with people of the same ethnic groups living on either side. People regularly move across the border looking for pasture for their animals or food in times of shortages.
The UN has urged the states bordering Nigeria to “keep their borders open.” But, refugees are bound to strain the already scarce resources of Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world. According to the UN, a million people already face food shortages.
Clearly, the international community must step forward with humanitarian assistance.