August 6, 2014

Boko Haram: Nigerians fleeing to ‘uninhabitable’ Chad— UN

Boko Haram: Nigerians fleeing to ‘uninhabitable’ Chad— UN

By Abiodun Alade

The violent attacks of Boko Haram insurgents in North-East Nigeria has forced thousands of Nigerians to flee their homes in Borno State into an uninhabited island in Lake Chad, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Fleeing-NigeriansAccording to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the island of Choua, in Lake Chad, is about four kilometres from where the borders of Chad, Nigeria and Niger intersect.

Refugees arriving there reported that they have fled violence and attacks on their village that resulted in the destruction of their houses and food reserves.

The group, which included mainly women and children, is in urgent need of food, water, shelter and medical care.

Ariane Rummery, (UNHCR) spokesperson, told the press in Geneva Tuesday that the people were from Nigerian city of Kolikolia, in strife-torn Borno State.

She said that at the request of the Government of Chad, the refugees would be relocated to the safer and more accessible hosting area in Ngouboua, some 30 kilometres from the border, where a number of Nigerian refugees and Chadian returned refugees already lived among hosting villages. Meanwhile, UNHCR and its partners have sent aid packages – including high energy biscuits, water purification kits, mosquito nets, communal tents, sleeping mats and other household items – to Ngouboua.

Attacks by Boko Haram Islamists in Nigeria’s crisis-hit northeast have forced nearly 650,000 people from their homes, the United Nations humanitarian office (OCHA) said Tuesday, an increase of nearly 200,000 since May.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) for its part reported that about 1,000 people trying to escape the fighting had fled to an uninhabited island on Lake Chad across Nigeria’s northeastern border.

“The group, mainly women and children, is in urgent need of food, water, shelter and medical care,” the UNHCR said.

Chad has pledged to send two helicopters to the island to help evacuate the Nigerian refugees to a nearby area where they can be temporarily settled with host communities, the UNHCR added.

The refugee agency said it was sending staff to the area to coordinate the relief effort.