The United Nations refugee agency today issued an urgent joint call for $34 million to aid the more than 75,000 people who have since last year fled the violence in northeast Nigeria by crossing into Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
“Aid agencies expect that the number of people fleeing to the three neighbouring countries could exceed 95,000 by the end of the year,” Babar Baloch, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told journalists in Geneva.
The Nigeria Refugee Response Plan, presented to donors today, was made on behalf of UNHCR and 16 partners. It aims to aid people who have crossed the border since 2013, when insurgent groups intensified their terror campaign in the north-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. Those areas remain under a state of emergency.
Mr. Baloch said that more than 11,000 refugees crossed into Cameroon and Chad in August alone.
“Refugees said that villages are mostly empty on the Nigerian side, with only old and disabled people remaining,” the spokesperson said.
In Cameroon, the new arrivals are seeking refuge in school buildings and churches, some sleeping in the open, and some are severely traumatized.
The people arriving in Cameroon “have been on the run for too long and were in rather bad shape,” according to the spokesperson.
He described one incident retold to UN staff in which 40 to 60 armed men had arrived in their village on motorbikes, telling villagers to embrace a more radical Islam and join their ranks, threatening to kill them.
In Niger, host families are trying to accommodate the influx of people, about 70 per cent of whom are women and children, is putting “a significant pressure on the host communities.”
In Nigeria, authorities have requested the UN agency to help protect some 650,000 internally displaced people in six north-eastern States.
UNHCR said it was helping to set up a protection monitoring system that would allow the agency to identify and profile protection problems, followed by an adequate response.
The agency and its partners will also provide shelter assistance and domestic items to displaced people with special needs. It has appealed for an additional 5.5 million for these activities.