This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesman Boris Cheshirkov – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press conference at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
GENEVA, Switzerland, March 23, 2021/ – UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, strongly condemns the attacks in western Niger that left 137 people dead, many of them already displaced after fleeing earlier violence.
On Sunday afternoon, armed assailants on motorbikes attacked the villages of Intazayane, Bakorat and Wirsnat in the Tahoua region of Niger. These villages are located about 50 km from the border with Mali. Some of the injured have been evacuated to the town of Tahoua, 150 kilometres from the scene of the attack.
UNHCR is assessing the needs and stands ready to provide health care and protection to those affected, while people may reach the nearby towns of Intikane, Telemces and Tahoua, where we are already providing humanitarian assistance to refugees, IDPs and vulnerable people in the host communities with our partners.
In Intikane, a large area hosting Malian refugees (20,000) and displaced Nigeriens (15,000) and their herds, 7,000 refugees have just returned after an attack in May 2020 – in which armed groups murdered refugee representatives and a local host community leader. The attackers destroyed the main water station and pipelines as well as a mobile phone tower, cutting off communication and water supplies to the displaced population and the host community.
In Niger, the Tahoua and Tillaberi regions, which border Burkina Faso and Mali, are currently hosting 204,000 refugees and IDPs.
UNHCR reiterates its urgent appeal to the warring parties in the Sahel to protect civilians, including uprooted people and host communities, as it is civilians who bear the brunt of the increasing attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali in the Sahel are at the epicentre of one of the fastest growing displacement and protection crises in the world. The Sahel is already home to nearly three million refugees and IDPs.
Despite growing insecurity, Nigerians continue to show generosity to those fleeing violence in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions of Africa.
Distributed by APO Group for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).