Niger: Tens of thousands of newly displaced without assistance in the Diffa region

MSF is working to assist the recently displaced people with basic aid

Following an attack on the town of Bosso in the Diffa region on 3 June, most of the population of Bosso, as well as neighbouring Yébi and Toumour, have fled to find safer locations. The majority of these newly displaced, numbering in the thousands, had come to the area seeking refuge from previous attacks.

The raid, carried out by the group Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) also known as Boko Haram, was one of the deadliest attacks ever in the region with dozens of soldiers reportedly killed.

After the initial attack on Bosso a large part of the population escaped to Toumour, a town a few kilometres to the west. People from several locations are now on the move again heading in different directions including Diffa, the capital of the region. The situation is quite dynamic and it is difficult to know where these people will settle. Also, as days pass, displaced people are becoming more vulnerable.

Since Saturday, MSF has witnessed an exodus of people leaving their localities. An MSF team has been conducting an evaluation to try and determine where people are fleeing to and respond to their most urgent needs.

“MSF is trying to help the displaced population – to provide basic assistance, including water and sanitation activities, shelter and healthcare,” says Elmounzer Ag Jiddou, MSF’s head of mission in Niger. “A lot of people are heading in different directions. Some are in the middle of nowhere and it is very difficult to assist them. Together with the different actors and the government, we need to see how to facilitate access and organise help.”

In Yébi, MSF was managing a health post providing assistance to the displaced population. The post was destroyed in an attack that took place on 19 May, but activities were resumed a few days later. However, the MSF programme in Yébi is currently suspended because of the ongoing security situation. MSF is still running activities in Nguigmi (another district north of Bosso) and in Diffa.  

MSF has been working in the Diffa region since December 2014. The organisation is supporting several health centres there, as well as the main maternal and child centre in Diffa town and the Nguigmi district hospital. MSF is also providing medical care in the camp in Assaga. In 2015, MSF carried out more than 142,000 medical consultations in the region.