Nigerians flee from insurgent attacks into Chad

Briefing Notes, 5 August 2014

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ariane Rummery to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 5 August 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Some thousand people fleeing attacks by Boko Haram on the Nigerian city of Kolikolia, in Borno State, arrived last Thursday on the uninhabited island of Choua in Lake Chad. The island lies in Chadian waters about four kilometres from where the borders of Chad, Nigeria and Niger intersect.

Refugees reported that they fled violence and attacks on their village that resulted in the destruction of their houses and food reserves.

The group, which includes mainly women and children, is in urgent need of food, water, shelter and medical care.

At the request of the government of Chad, the refugees will be relocated to the safer and more accessible hosting area in Ngouboua, some 30 kilometres from the border, where a number of Nigerian refugees and Chadian returned refugees already live among hosting villages.

Chadian authorities have provided two helicopters for the relocation of refugees from Choua to Ngouboua, which is expected to begin on Wednesday.

UNHCR and its partners (WFP, UNICEF, WHO, OCHA and UNFPA, among others) have sent aid packages including high energy biscuits, water purification kits, mosquito nets, communal tents, sleeping mats and other household items to Ngouboua.

The newly arrived refugees report that more Nigerians are likely to arrive in Chad soon. In line with UNHCR's strategy to seek alternatives to camps, newly arrived refugees from Nigeria will be settled in villages in and around Ngouboua, with assistance also provided to the host population.

UNHCR is establishing a field office in the Lake Chad area to monitor the situation, coordinate the response with partners on the ground, and ensure protection and assistance to refugees.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Geneva, Ariane Rummery on mobile +41 79 200 7617
  • In N'djamena, Massoumeh Farman-Farmaian on mobile +235 68 000 530
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UNHCR country pages

Nigeria: The Casualties of Conflict

One year after the Nigerian government declared a state of emergency in the northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, violence continues to displace people within Nigeria and to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, including some 22,000 Nigerian refugees. Civilians trapped at home face recurrent attacks by insurgents, with a series of kidnappings and killings culminating in mid-April this year in the abduction of more than 200 girls from a school in Chibok, Borno.

UNHCR's Hélène Caux recently travelled to the region to meet with some of the 250,000 internally displaced, including students caught up in the violence. Those she spoke to told her about their fears, and the atrocities and suffering they had endured or witnessed. People spoke about their homes and fields being destroyed, grenade attacks on markets, the killing of friends and relatives, and arbitrary arrests. Uniting them is an overwhelming sense of terror. Caux found it a challenge to photograph people who live in constant fear of being attacked. "It was this delicate balance to try to achieve between featuring them, communicating their stories and protecting them," she said.

Nigeria: The Casualties of Conflict

Darfuri Refugees in Chad: No end in Sight

More than six years after the beginning of the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, more than a quarter-of-a-million refugees remain displaced in neighbouring Chad. Most of the refugees are women and children and many are still traumatized after fleeing across the border after losing almost everything in land and air raids on their villages.

Families saw their villages being burned, their relatives being killed and their livestock being stolen. Women and girls have been victims of rape, abuse and humiliation, and many have been ostracized by their own communities as a result.

The bulk of the refugees live in 12 camps run by UNHCR in the arid reaches of eastern Chad, where natural resources such as water and firewood are scarce. They have been able to resume their lives in relative peace, but all hope one day to return to Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of their compatriots are internally displaced.

In eastern Chad, UNHCR and other agencies are helping to take care of 180,000 internally displaced Chadians, who fled inter-ethnic clashes in 2006-2007. Some families are starting to return to their villages of origin only now.

Darfuri Refugees in Chad: No end in Sight

Chad's other refugee crisis

While attention focuses on the Darfuris in eastern Chad, another refugee crisis unfolds in southern Chad.

A second refugee crisis has been quietly unfolding in the south of Chad for the past few years, getting little attention from the media and the international community. Some 60,000 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) are hosted there in five camps and receive regular assistance from UNHCR. But funding for aid and reintegration projects remains low. Refugees have been fleeing fighting between rebel groups and governmental forces in northern CAR. 17,000 new refugees have arrived from northern CAR to south-eastern Chad since the beginning of 2009.

Chad's other refugee crisis

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