Violence drives 36,000 refugees to Niger – UN

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The UN refugee agency says more than 36,000 refugees arrived in Niger between January and April this year – adding to the country’s humanitarian crisis.

The UNHCR says many more are still arriving from neighbouring countries where armed groups have stepped up attacks on civilian populations.

In Mali and Burkina Faso, militants linked to the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda have forced thousands of people to cross the borders.

In north-western Nigeria, armed gangs kidnapping people for ransom continue to unleash deadly violence.

Niger itself is facing attacks by the armed groups.

The UN says the refugees are arriving in Niger’s driest areas which makes their situation more ”precarious” given the already existing food shortages and price hikes.

It calls for an emergency response plan as well as intervention and stabilisation strategies.

UNHCR representative in Niger, Emmanuel Gignac, said 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.

The West African country has about 580,000 displaced people including refugees, according to the UN.

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