Thousands of civilians have fled their homes in Diffa and Zinder, Niger Republic, this week, over waves of cross-border raids and suicide bombings by Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, according to statistics released by the International Rescue Committee.
Attacks in Niger are deepening a humanitarian crisis in the remote border zone. The area, struggling to feed some 150,000 people who have run to escape violence in Nigeria, has seen around 7,000 arrive this week in Zinder, Niger’s second biggest town.
The International Rescue Committee, which supplied the population estimates, has teams working on the ground there. Matias Meier, Country Director, said some families in Zinder, one of the poorest regions in Niger, are accommodating 20 people, while other displaced were sleeping in the stadium.
“Those who went on the trucks are the lucky ones. Bus tickets are sold out until the end of next week. Many are just walking or going by bicycle,” Meier told Reuters. Boko Haram’s insurgency has killed thousands in Nigeria. Regional armies are mobilising a joint force of 8,700 men to defeat the group that is increasingly threatening neighbouring countries.
Niger’s military says its army, backed by Chadian forces deployed to the country, has killed hundreds of Boko Haram fighters in several battles sparked by raids in the Diffa region by militants this week. Local authorities in Zinder said that at least 4,000 displaced had arrived in the town.