By John Ikani
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says about 36,000 refugees displaced by surging violence in West Africa between January and April this year have arrived Niger Republic, worsening the the country’s humanitarian crisis.
According to the UNHCR, more refugees are trooping into Niger Republic from neighbouring countries where civilian populations are continuously faced with attack from armed groups.
The feeder countries include Nigeria where armed gangs kidnapping people for ransom continue to unleash deadly violence on civilians in the nation’s northwest.
In Burkina Faso and Mali, militants linked to the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda have forced thousands of people to cross the borders.
Niger itself is facing attacks by the armed groups.
The West African country has about 580,000 displaced people including refugees, according to the UN.
UNHCR representative in Niger, Emmanuel Gignac, said the refugees are arriving in Niger’s driest areas which makes their situation more ”precarious” given the already existing food shortages and price hikes.
According to the agency, humanitarian agencies were reaching their limits as a result of the influx of refugees who need shelter, food and water with some of the refugee children ”acutely malnourished”.
There are also needs for healthcare and education, the agency said.
It calls for an emergency response plan as well as intervention and stabilisation strategies.