UN food agency concerned over situation of 125k Nigerian refugees
The United Nations food agency has voiced concern for 125,000 Nigerian refugees who fled attacks by the Boko Haram Takfiri militants, seeking shelter in neighboring Niger.
On Tuesday, the World Food Program (WFP) warned of the “appalling situation” and food shortage in Niger’s Diffa region.
“The World Food Program is particularly concerned by the attacks in the north of Nigeria which are spreading to Niger, forcing thousands of people to flee,” said WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs.
Byrs added that the distribution of food had been temporarily interrupted as a result of a new operation launched by the militants in Diffa, which borders Nigeria’s Borno State.
“Distribution will resume when the situation allows,” the spokeswoman added.
The population in Diffa has nearly doubled in recent months due to the influx of the Nigerian refugees.
The WFP said the refugees are living in three different camps and 140 different sites in Diffa.
According to a study conducted by the UN agency last November, 52.7 percent of displaced Nigerian households and their host families were in need of food.
By December 2014, the WFP said it was providing food aid to more than 60,000 refugees, returnees, and host families.
Niger’s parliament on Monday approved the dispatch of 750 soldiers to Nigeria to join regional forces from Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad in the battle against Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” and controls parts of northeastern Nigeria.
The Takfiri militants say their goal is to overthrow the Nigerian government.
Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a spate of deadly shooting attacks and bombings in various parts of Nigeria since the beginning of its militancy in 2009, which has left 1.5 million displaced and over 13,000 others dead. At least 10,000 of the victims were killed over the past year alone.