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"We're Concerned over Insecurity in Nigeria, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara Violence Drives 20,000 Into Niger Republic" — UNHCR Raises Alarm

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UNHCR refugee agency on Tuesday said that recent violence in North West Nigeria has forced about 20,000 people to seek safety in Niger Republic since April.
North West comprises Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara.

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In a statement by UNHCR spokesperson, Babar Baloch, the agency noted its concern about deteriorating security in Nigeria, noting that it is working closely with authorities in Niger Republic to provide basic assistance and register the new arrivals from Nigeria.
It said more than 18,000 people have already gone through the initial registration process so far.

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The agency said the latest violence is not linked to Boko Haram, noting that people are reportedly fleeing due to multiple reasons.
It listed clashes between farmers and herders, as well as kidnappings for ransom in Sokoto and Zamfara states.

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“People leaving Nigeria, and arriving in Niger’s Maradi region, speak of witnessing extreme violence unleashed against civilians, including machete attacks, kidnappings and sexual violence. The majority of the new arrivals are women and children.
“The ongoing Boko Haram insurgency has already spilled over into Niger, where it has affected its Diffa region since 2015. The region currently hosts almost 250,000 displaced people – including refugees from Nigeria and locals being displaced inside their own country,” UNHCR noted.

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The statement said Niger continues to be a leading regional example in providing safety to refugees fleeing conflict and persecution in many countries.
It also said that Niger Republic has kept its borders open for refugees despite the ongoing violence in several regions bordering Nigeria, Mali and recently Burkina Faso.

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According to the agency, “Many of the newly arrived are located very close to the Nigerian border, where there remains a high risk of armed incursions. UNHCR with sister UN agencies and partners is discussing with the government the possibility of relocating them into local towns and villages further in land.
“As well as providing aid to Nigerian new arrivals, UNHCR also plans to support host families, who despite lack of adequate resources and access to basic services, have always shown solidarity towards the displaced and welcomed people into their homes.”

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UNHCR said that since the beginning of 2018, violence within the Diffa region perpetrated by Boko Haram has also significantly escalated with a record number of civilian casualties and unprecedented secondary movements within the region.
“Niger is currently hosting over 380,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Mali and Nigeria as well as its own internally displaced population. The country has also provided refuge to some 2,782 asylum seekers airlifted from insecurity in Libya, while awaiting durable solutions”, it said.

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