Boko Haram, herdsmen chased 20,000 Nigerians into Niger Republic

May 28, 2019
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The Boko Haram uprising in northwest Nigeria compelled over 20,000 Nigerians to flee the shores of the country into Niger Republic as refugees since April 2019, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.

National Daily learned that the UNHCR expressed serious concerns over the deteriorating security conditions in Nigeria in the West African sub-region, where military and police have been deployed to tackle criminal gangs involved in killings and kidnappings. The UN agency noted that security forces are already stretched tackling the decade-long insurgency by Islamist group, Boko Haram, in the northeast. The UN agency also noted that herdsmen killings also contributed to the exodus of Nigerians into Niger Republic for safety.

 “This is not Boko Haram related in any way,” UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch had said in a media interaction in Abuja; adding: “People are reportedly fleeing due to multiple reasons, including clashes between farmers and herders of different ethnic groups, vigilantism, as well as kidnappings for ransom,” he said.

The UNHCR released the report a day to the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term. The President had in a preparatory speech for the inauguration, assured Nigerians that he will improve security in his second term.

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It was noted that the Senate increased the 2019 budget by N80 billion ($261 million), citing the need for a rise in security spending across the country.

Baloch said refugees arriving in Niger’s southern Maradi region had reported machete attacks, kidnappings and sexual violence.

Banditry has plagued the northwest for years, particularly around Zamfara State and its border with Kaduna State, though a recent spate of kidnappings and killings in the region has put it in the public eye.

The federal government suspended mining in Zamfara in April amid concerns that illegal miners were connected to a rise in violence.

Clashes between farming communities and nomadic herders over dwindling land in Nigeria last year killed more people than the Boko Haram conflict, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

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