Niger: Senior UNHCR Benin staffer to follow up reported plan to expel remote Mahamid nomads
We've had several calls on the reported plans by Niger to expel thousands of Mahamid Arab nomads to Chad. We do not have an office in Niger, but a senior UNHCR staff member from our regional office in Benin is travelling to Niger to get more information on the reports. He is expected to travel to the remote Diffa region in the eastern part of Niger, where there are an estimated 100-150,000 Mahamid Arabs, some of whom have lived in the region for decades.
The Diffa region is about 1,400 km from Niamey, Niger's capital, on the eastern border with Chad. It will take a few days to get there. The Mahamid Arabs have not previously been considered a population of concern to UNHCR. So we want to get more detailed information on the government's announced plans and on specifically who these people are.
We understand the Mahamid Arabs have large numbers of livestock, including an estimated 100,000 camels, and are putting a big strain on meagre water and grazing resources.
UNHCR is in contact with Niger authorities and we're following the situation closely. We will be looking at whether the proposed government actions could result in statelessness for anyone expelled; if any of these people could be considered refugees; and what conditions or problems they could face if returned to Chad.