Niger: Thousands facing precarious conditions after being forced to leave Lake Chad
Thousands of people have fled their villages on islands in Lake Chad, in south-eastern Niger, after Nigerien authorities urged them to leave the area following the deadly attack of Boko Haram on the island of Karamga on 25 April. According to preliminary figures from United Nations, 25,000 people have arrived in Nguigmi and Bosso, two towns located near the lake. About 1,500 additional people are now in a transit site in Diffa, the capital of the region.
The conditions in which people arrive are critical. Most of them had to walk for days, leaving behind most of their belongings. “The main needs of the population are food, water, healthcare and shelter,” says Abdalla Hussein, MSF’s emergency coordinator in Diffa. “More assistance needs to arrive rapidly to help these people –they are facing a very precarious situation now”.
MSF is one of the few organisations that are assisting this population in the transit site in Diffa. Since last Sunday, MSF teams have conducted over 900 medical consultations; treating mainly cases of dehydration, hypoglycemia and respiratory infections. Moreover, following negotiations with the authorities, several patients have been referred to the hospital in Diffa, where the organisation was already working. MSF is also providing drinking water and food.
In Nguigmi, MSF has treated some refugees in the health centre of the town, where the organisation has been working jointly with the Ministry of Health since before the current crisis. The organization is also starting to provide healthcare in the two settlements where the displaced population is concentrated now: the airport and an area in an open site called Kimegana.
MSF teams are also doing rapid assessments with a view to expanding the response in areas in the north of Bosso, where new displaced people from the lake have arrived since the beginning of this month.
The majority of this population are Nigerians who had previously fled from the north of their country due to the violence. Between 3 and 6 May, several thousand of them were repatriated to northern Nigeria by lorries.
Since last December, MSF has been working in the Diffa region to assist the people that have arrived to the area fleeing the violence in northern Nigeria, and also the local population. The organisation is currently working in the districts of Diffa and Nguigmi, supporting four health centres, including a maternal and child health centre in the city of Diffa.