NE Nigeria insecurity sees refugee outflows spreading to Cameroon

News Stories, 18 June 2013

© UNHCR/C.Arnaud
Ismael Bahla fled with his three wives and 13 children from Nigeria to Niger. Many Nigerians from Borno state have left since fighting began in May between Nigerian forces and Boko Haram.

GENEVA, 18 June (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday the on-going crisis in northeastern Nigeria's Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States is causing new arrivals of refugees in Niger, and now in Cameroon.

"In Cameroon, a UNHCR team visited areas along the Nigeria-Cameroon border in the Far North region on Friday," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told a briefing in Geneva. "They reported the presence of over 3,000 Nigerians."

Crossings of Nigerians into Cameroon began a week ago, with people reporting they had fled a confrontation between the Nigerian army and Boko Haram insurgents some 10 kilometres from border.

Most of those who have arrived are women and children. They are being hosted in churches and schools, and rely on food from churches and local population. UNHCR said it was working with the authorities to relocate the refugees to safer places away from the border.

Meanwhile in Niger, the UN refugee agency said it had sent aid by trucks from Niamey to the southeastern Diffa region, where over 6,000 persons have arrived from northern Nigeria in the past weeks. That includes 2,692 Nigerian nationals as well as 3,544 returning Niger nationals and others, mainly Chadians. Mats, blankets, jerry cans, soap, buckets, mosquito nets and kitchen items have been pre-positioned in Diffa, Bosso, Kablewa and Menesewa for distribution to both Nigerian refugees and Nigerian returnees.

"Most new arrivals in Niger are women and children coming from rural villages across the border and from Maiduguri and Baga towns," said Edwards.

People are still arriving in Niger. On 11 June, gunshots were heard in Malam Fatouri, a village on the Nigeria side, near the border, prompting most of the population to flee into Niger, UNHCR said. They travelled by foot and motorcycles and found refuge with host families just across the border.

Hundreds of new arrivals have also been reported in an area some 60 km north of Diffa, local authorities told UNHCR. At the same time, UNHCR teams observed that some displaced persons from Nigeria are returning home after a few days in Niger or shuttling between the two countries depending on the security situation in Nigeria.

In Chad there have been no further arrivals of Nigerians beyond the 155 received last week. There the border is officially closed.

The Nigerian government imposed a state of emergency on the Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states in the northeast of the country in May.




UNHCR country pages

Crisis in the Central African Republic

Little has been reported about the humanitarian crisis in the northern part of the Central African Republic (CAR), where at least 295,000 people have been forced out of their homes since mid-2005. An estimated 197,000 are internally displaced, while 98,000 have fled to Chad, Cameroon or Sudan. They are the victims of fighting between rebel groups and government forces.

Many of the internally displaced live in the bush close to their villages. They build shelters from hay, grow vegetables and even start bush schools for their children. But access to clean water and health care remains a huge problem. Many children suffer from diarrhoea and malaria but their parents are too scared to take them to hospitals or clinics for treatment.

Cattle herders in northern CAR are menaced by the zaraguina, bandits who kidnap children for ransom. The villagers must sell off their livestock to pay.

Posted on 21 February 2008

Crisis in the Central African Republic

2014: CAR refugees attacked as they flee to Cameroon

Each week 10,000 Muslims cross into eastern Cameroon to escape the violence consuming the Central African Republic (CAR). Many new arrivals report that they have been repeatedly attacked as they fled. The anti-Balaka militiamen have blocked main roads to Cameroon, forcing people to find alternate routes through the bush. Many are walking two to three months to reach Cameroon, arriving malnourished and bearing wounds from machetes and gunshots.

UNHCR and its partners have established additional mobile clinics at entry points to provide emergency care as refugees arrive. The UN refugee agency is also supporting public health centres that have been overwhelmed by the number of refugees and their condition.

Meanwhile, UNHCR has relocated some 20,000 refugees who had been living in the open in the Garoua Bouai and Kenzou border areas, bringing them to new sites at Lolo, Mborguene, Gado and Borgop in the East and Adamwa regions.

Since the beginning of the year, Cameroon has received nearly 70,000 refugees from CAR, adding to the 92,000 who fled in earlier waves since 2004 to escape rebel groups and bandits in the north of their country.

UNHCR staff members Paul Spiegel and Michele Poletto recently travelled to eastern Cameroon and have the following photos to share from their iPhone and camera.

2014: CAR refugees attacked as they flee to Cameroon

Malian refugees flee for safety to Niger

Thousands of Malian families have arrived in Niger since mid-January, fleeing fighting between a rebel Tuareg movement and Malian government forces in northern Mali. Refugees are living in makeshift settlements along the border, exposed to the sun and wind by day, and cold at night. UNHCR has started distributing relief assistance and is planning to open camps in safer areas further away from the border. UNHCR's Helene Caux met with some the refugees who all expressed their desire to return to their country once peace prevails.

Malian refugees flee for safety to Niger

Nigeria: Back to schoolPlay video

Nigeria: Back to school

When gun-toting Boko Haram insurgents attacked villages in north-eastern Nigeria, thousands of children fled to safety. They now have years of lessons to catch up on as they return to schools, some of which now double as camps for internally displaced people or remain scarred by bullets.
Nigeria: Homeless in their own countryPlay video

Nigeria: Homeless in their own country

Boko Haram's bloody insurgency made at least two million Nigerians homeless in their own country. As large swathes of the northeast remain no-go areas, UNHCR and other partners are providing vital aid, including bedding and cooking utensils to those driven into internal exile.
Cameroon: Escape from NigeriaPlay video

Cameroon: Escape from Nigeria

Attacks by Nigerian insurgents have spread to neighbouring countries in recent months, severely restricting the 'humanitarian space' aid organisations, like UNHCR, can operate in to help people made homeless by the unrest. The insurgents have also recently mounted a series of suicide attacks in Cameroon - the first such attacks in the country.