Chad’s Prime Minister Kalzeubet Pahimi has called for international aid for thousands of Nigerian refugees who fled attacks by the dreaded Islamic-sect Boko Haram across the border into the Lake Chad region.
Around 2,000 Nigerians and 500 Chadians crossed the border into Chad in recent days, joining around 1,000 Nigerians who arrived some months ago, Pahimi told Reuters.
United Nations, U.N. agencies, the Chadian Red Cross and other groups conducted an evaluation mission this week to the area where the refugees are located and distributed supplies including soap, tarpaulins, biscuits and jerry cans, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said.
“Following insurgent attacks on five villages along the frontier between Chad and Nigeria between 28 December and 30 December, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated,” UNHCR said Thursday. The agency put the total figure of Nigerian refugees in Chad at more than 5,000.
The militants have been waging an insurgency to establish an Islamist state in Nigeria’s northeast for five years. The number and scale of attacks rose sharply last year, after the government imposed emergency rule in the three worst-hit states. Boko Haram has also launched cross-border attacks into Chad and Cameroon. In response, Chad’s President Idriss Deby has backed peace talks between Nigeria and the militants and beefed up border security.