52,000 displaced by violence in western Niger: UN

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“The UN refugee agency is becoming increasingly troubled by ongoing violence in Niger’s border areas with Mali and Burkina Faso,” the UNHCR said in a statement.

“Those displaced report fleeing horrific violence. Armed groups are said to be attacking villages, killing and abducting civilians, including community leaders, burning schools and looting homes, businesses and livestock.” The UN refugee agency is becoming increasingly troubled by on-going violence in Niger’s border areas with Mali and Burkina Faso.

The raids and plunder affect residents of the Tahoua and Tillaberi border regions, where the government has declared a state of emergency while troops of a five-nation G5-Sahel military task force fights insurgents.

“They kidnapped five people from my village who were later found dead,” cattle farmer Al-Bashir Gamo Gamo told the UN agency, saying that armed groups threatened the villagers with death if they did not leave within 12 hours.

“Nobody can sleep at night, walk anywhere or cultivate crops because of fear,” he added. In addition to inducing local residents to flee, the violence is affecting 53,000 refugees from Mali who live in Niger’s border regions. A previous count by the United Nations in October reported 42,000 people displaced by the activities of non-state armed groups and also by security measures aimed at halting “repeated infiltrations by terrorists” from Mali.

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