UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says nearly 6,000 people have fled the northern parts of Nigeria due to the activities of Boko Haram to neighbouring Cameroon and Niger in the past 10 days.
UNHCR in its reports made available at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday, reported that several people had been killed, their villages bombed and at least two villages burned to the ground.
“We continue to urge states in the region to keep their borders open for Nigerians who are fleeing their country and may need international protection.
“We are also advising against any forced returns,’’ the report quoted the UNHCR spokesperson, Adrian Edwards, as saying.
States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe have been under state-of-emergency since May 2013 as the army fights Boko Haram insurgents.
“Of the more than 4,000, who fled to Cameroon since mid-January, most are in the Logone-et-Chari area of Far North Region.
“With this new influx, there are now 12,428 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon, according to local Cameroonian authorities. Of that number 2,183 have so far been moved to a UNHCR camp at Minawao, 130 kilometres further inland.
“Together with partner agencies we are providing refugees with shelter, health, sanitation, education, food, and other help,’’ UNHCR said.
The agency noted that its team in Cameroon’s far North region had spoken with refugees from the area around Banki, a town just across the border in Nigeria’s Borno State.
“The refugees said their villages were bombed, that several people had been killed, and that at least two villages were burned to the ground,” it said.
According to UNHCR, in Niger, 1,500 new refugees, mostly women and children, arrived in the Diffa region of south-east Niger.
It added that the refugees said that they fled because of Jan. 16 attack of a mosque in the village of Gashagar, just across the border.
Seven people were reportedly killed during the attack, and seven cars and 60 shops were burned. (NAN)