The Republic of Niger is a landlocked country located in Western Africa, southeast of the country of Algeria. Since gaining its independence from France in 1960, Niger has been politically unstable due to constant military coups and rebellions.
As of 2015, the population of Niger is estimated to be around 18,045,729 with roughly 266,476 of the people labeled as refugees. Below are 10 facts about Niger refugees:
- Though Niger refugees consist mainly of individuals from neighboring countries, the majority of these refugees come from Mali and Nigeria. Since July 2016, about 134,336 individuals from Mali and 73,078 from Nigeria comprise Niger’s refugees.
- Nigeriens can become refugees within their own country. Recent activity from Boko Haram insurgents drove an estimated 50,000 Nigerien citizens from their hometown in Bosso.
- The largest concentration of refugees in Niger lives in the Diffa region.
- According to Rescue.org, less than 5 percent of Nigerien refugees live in camps. Many of these refugees live with either host families or in dilapidated lodgings.
- Human traffickers are a threat to Niger refugees. In June 2016, 34 people were found dead. Their bodies were left abandoned in the Niger Desert by smugglers. Of those 34 corpses, 20 were children.
- Chronic issues facing Niger refugees are a lack of water, food, shelters, education, health nutrition and sanitation.
- Refugees from Mali continue to grow in Niger despite the peace treaty signed by the Malian government, a Tuareg-led rebel group and a loyalist militia.
- The climate of Niger is particularly harsh for refugees. Many areas that contain refugees are described as semi-desert climates which make food production difficult and water scarce.
- Violence towards Niger refugees is common within the country. The government stated that criminal incidents in areas such as Diffa have deteriorated the security of villages and refugee shelters. These criminal incidents are characterized as suicide and terrorist attacks.
- The European Commission is the largest organization providing aid to Niger refugees. Between 2015 and 2016, the EU gave a total of 87,000,000 euros or $97,840,369 in emergency aid to Niger.
Though Niger refugees are experiencing significant hardships, there are plenty of organizations that provide significant aid to the country. For instance, the EU partnered with the U.N. Refugee Agency, the International Rescue Committee, the World Food Program, Save the Children and other relief agencies to provide aid and emergency services to the citizens and refugees in Niger. These services include access to health care, access to clean drinking water and nutritional care.
– Shannon Warren