Christian Today report– Thousands of people from Niger’s Diffa region have fled the violence as Boko Haram begins to expand its operations to Nigeria’s neighbouring countries.
According to the World Watch Monitor, the spilling over of insurgent activity to Niger’s Diffa region has prompted a “mass exodus” of thousands of people to Zinder, situated 350 miles west of Diffa, out of fear of being attacked by the militants.
The Diffa region is located in the easternmost border of Niger, straddling the Lake Chad Basin. Nigeria lies to the south of the region, while Chad is to the east. It is described as one of the poorest regions in Niger.
”Hundreds, even thousands of people have left in cars and trucks,” a refugee told the Monitor.
“It’s truly a matter of survival of the fittest,” he said, adding that establishments providing essential services to the population have already closed down, including schools, government buildings and hospitals. He revealed that some patients have been left behind in the hospitals because there are no longer any medical staff to assist them.
“These patients are in despair,” the refugee described.
Among the offices that closed its doors in the Diffa region is the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, which told WWM that the mass exodus presents a humanitarian crisis. According to UNHCR spokesperson in Nigeria Benoit Moreno, the displacement of people from Diffa adds one more problem to “an already complex situation.”
After expanding its operations into Cameroon in December, Boko Haram militants launched simultaneous attacks in Diffa and Bosso on February 6 but were repelled by the Niger’s military forces. However, the attacks sparked a 15-day state of emergency in Niger on February 10, allowing government forces to search homes for possible militant hideouts as well as ban the use of motorcycles.
AFP reported that a suspected Boko Haram suicide attack was repelled by the Niger government forces on February 11 after a woman was shot dead before she could detonate her explosive device.
Niger, Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Benin have formed an 8,000-strong multinational task force to combat the escalating radical Islamist threat posed by Boko Haram.
Source: Christian Today