The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says nearly 6,000 people have fled the northern parts of Nigeria due to the activities of Boko Haram to neighbouring Cameroon and Niger in the past 10 days.
UNHCR in its reports made available at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday, reported that several people had been killed, their villages bombed and at least two villages burned to the ground.
“We continue to urge states in the region to keep their borders open for Nigerians who are fleeing their country and may need international protection.
“We are also advising against any forced returns,’’ the report quoted the UNHCR spokesperson, Adrian Edwards, as saying.
States of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe have been under state-of-emergency since May 2013 as the army fights Boko Haram insurgents.
“Of the more than 4,000, who fled to Cameroon since mid-January, most are in the Logone-et-Chari area of Far North Region.
“With this new influx, there are now 12,428 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon, according to local Cameroonian authorities. Of that number 2,183 have so far been moved to a UNHCR camp at Minawao, 130 kilometres further inland.
“Together with partner agencies we are providing refugees with shelter, health, sanitation, education, food, and other help,’’ UNHCR said.
The agency noted that its team in Cameroon’s far North region had spoken with refugees from the area around Banki, a town just across the border in Nigeria’s Borno State.
“The refugees said their villages were bombed, that several people had been killed, and that at least two villages were burned to the ground,” it said.
According to UNHCR, in Niger, 1,500 new refugees, mostly women and children, arrived in the Diffa region of south-east Niger.
It added that the refugees said that they fled because of January16 attack of a mosque in the village of Gashagar, just across the border.
Seven people were reportedly killed during the attack, and seven cars and 60 shops were burned.
Attacks by Boko Haram insurgents on Borno border communities and satellite villages to Maiduguri have increased since the beginning of the year.
The most recent occurred on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in farming communities around Maiduguri. Residents said they buried 18 of their neighbours on Wednesday after gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram attacked their communities.
Many other people were injured and several houses were burnt in the attack.
A resident of Njaba Village, Wadai Mutah, who came to the hospital to attend to five of his relatives that sustained bullet wounds in the attack, narrated how the attack occurred.
“Our village was attacked by Boko Haram members on Tuesday and they killed 10 people and set the whole village on fire before leaving,” he said.
Mr. Mutah also said a neigbouring village was attacked the next day.
“At the neighbouring Kaya Village, which was attacked on Wednesday, eight people were killed when the Boko Haram attacked, shooting our people and burning their houses.
“Mude and Kwaljiri villages were also attacked and totally destroyed on the same day but the villagers escaped unhurt and ran to Njaba as they did not know that we had been attacked the day before,” he said.
One of the survivors of the Njaba attack at the State Specialists’ Hospital, Pogu Wovi, narrated how he survived the attack.
“It was after the late evening meals and we were sitting outside when we heard gunshots from various directions,” Mr. Wovi told PREMIUM TIMES in Hausa. “There was confusion, with women and children crying for help. I hurt my leg while trying to escape in the dark night but I had to drag myself to the bush and remained there till morning”.
Mr. Wovi, who said he is about 45-years-old, said soldiers arrived much later after the attackers had left to give first aid treatment to injured victims in the attacked villages.
“It was when we were receiving first aid treatment that I was told that 10 people had been killed in the attack. On Wednesday, when Mude, Kwaljiri and Kaya villages were attacked, people from there told us that 8 people had been killed in Kaya while Mude and Kwaljiri villages were completely burnt; but all the villagers escaped,” he said.
Neither the military nor the police authorities have issued any statement on the recent attacks, which only became public when fleeing residents made it to Maiduguri on Thursday.
Since the January 14 Maiduguri blast that claimed about 43 lives, dozens of people have been killed as gunmen attack settlements around the Borno capital.
Credit: Premium Times
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