from AHMED OBAFEMI in Maiduguri, Nigeria
MAIDUGURI – THE death of 20 people during a stampede over food and cash aid in Niger is the latest catastrophe in a crisis perpetrated by the Boko Haram terror group.
Women and infants were among those killed during the scuffle in the Diffa region.
It is feared that the number of victims could rise as more information on casualties is received from hospitals and health centers in Diffa.
“We are shocked and saddened by these deaths,” said Alessandra Morelli, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative for Niger.
UNHCR, which was not involved in the distribution on Sunday, is providing emergency assistance to survivors in the form of medical care and psycho-social support and remains ready to support local authorities in their response to the tragedy.
The Diffa region, bordering Nigeria’s Borno State, currently hosts 263 000 people who have been displaced by violence in the Lake Chad Basin.
Refugees constitute half that number.
A majority of refugees are women and children from Nigeria, with a few thousand arriving recently from Chad.
Thousands of civilians have fled Nigeria over the past decade following violence by the Boko Haram terror group, which is involved in a deadly campaign to establish an Islamic state northeast of the country.
The terror has spilled to the neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
More than 30 000 people have been killed and 2 million displaced in Nigeria.
Those forced to flee their homes have settled in inhabitable makeshift sites suffering intermittent outbreaks of disease.
– CAJ News