UNHCR condemns the attack in Western Niger against displaced population

Women walking in the desert close to Agadez Niger. Women walking in the desert close to Agadez Niger. Image by Sepp Friedhuber on iStock

23 March 2021

The UNHCR issued a statement on the recent attack in Niger during a press briefing in Geneva.

On 21 March 2021, an armed attack was carried out in the villages of Intazayane, Bakorat and Wirsnat in Niger’s Tahoua region, resulting in 137 deaths, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The perpetrators of the attack were gunmen on motorbikes and are suspected to be jihadists. Many of the victims were displaced individuals having previously fled violence. This attack is the “deadliest suspected jihadist massacre ever committed in Niger,” according to The Guardian. Less than a week prior to this attack, another attack occurred in Niger that killed at least 66 people. 

The government of Niger responded to the attacks by declaring that “reinforced security and sanitary measures will be taken in the region” and an investigation to identify and prosecute the perpetrators is underway. Niger has suffered increasing amounts of violence in recent years, attributed to “armed campaigns that have spilled over from Mali and Nigeria, killing hundreds of people and displacing nearly half a million others,” according to Aljazeera. Hosting approximately three million refugees and displaced people, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali in the Sahel face “one of the world’s fastest-growing displacement and protection crises,” as stated by the UNHCR. 

During a press briefing on March 23rd, the UNHCR strongly condemned the attack and stated that the needs of Nigerians are being evaluated by the organization in order to assist them. The agency is “preparing to assist affected people with health care and to provide protection services,” and anticipates that populations may relocate near Intikane, Telemces and Tahoua, areas where the UN is currently “providing humanitarian assistance to refugees, internally displaced and vulnerable people among their hosts.” As civilians have increasingly been targeted in such attacks, the UNHCR urged warring parties in the Sahel to protect civilians. 

To know more, please read:

www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/22/gunmen-on-motorbikes-raid-niger-villages-kill-scores

www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/22/suspected-jihadists-attack-villages-in-niger-killing-sco

Res-of-people

www.unhcr.org/news/briefing/2021/3/605997724/unhcr-outraged-deadly-attack-against-displaced-population-western-niger.html

 

Author: Sitara Sandhu; Editor: Gabriella Pavlakis

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