NE Nigeria insecurity sees refugee outflows spreading to Cameroon

Briefing Notes, 18 June 2013

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 18 June 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

With the on-going crisis in north-eastern Nigeria's Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States, UNHCR offices are reporting refugee arrivals in Niger, and now in Cameroon too.

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

Crossings of Nigerians into Cameroon began a week ago, with people telling us they had fled a confrontation between the Nigerian army and Boko Haram insurgents some 10 kilometers from border. Most of those who have arrived so far are women and children. They are being hosted in churches and schools, and relying on food from the churches and local population. We are working with the authorities to relocate the refugees to safer places away from the border.

Meanwhile in Niger, we have sent relief aid by trucks from Niamey to the south eastern Diffa region, where over 6,000 persons have arrived from northern Nigeria in the past weeks. That figure includes Nigerian nationals (2,692) as well as returning Niger nationals (3,544) and others (mainly Chadians). Mats, blankets, jerry cans, soaps, buckets, mosquito nets and kitchen items have been pre-positioned in Diffa, Bosso, Kablewa and Menesewa and will be distributed to both Nigerian refugees and Nigerien returnees.

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

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. 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, according to local authorities. At the same time, our 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.

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