Urgent need for humanitarian assistance in Western Africa refugee crisis

Niamey, 11 February 2015: The conflict in northern Nigeria is causing a regional humanitarian crisis, with tens of thousands of refugees and returnees fleeing the border into Niger, Chad and Cameroon. About 80 percent of the displaced are women and children. CARE has so far reached more than 50,000 people with food, cash, drinking water or hygiene kits in Niger.

Refugees are putting a heavy strain on communities already struggling with food shortage. In the region of Diffa in Niger, more than half of the population do not have secure access to food and about a quarter of children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition. Lack of clean water has contributed to a regional epidemic of cholera. Hundreds of cases have been reported, mainly among displaced people.

"Talking to refugees we hear heart breaking stories of children separated from their families and women desperately looking for them. People are dying from disease and hunger, and these numbers will continue to rise until there is a robust international response to meet the need of refugees and vulnerable host communities" says Country Director for CARE in Niger, Rotimy Djossaya.

"CARE is also very concerned by the potential long-term consequences if this crisis continues to grow. This is a region where people are living more or less permanently on a precipice, and a crisis such as this may plunge whole communities over the edge of sustenance. The longer we wait to respond, the more people will need long term humanitarian assistance" adds Djossaya.

The fighting on the Nigerian border is causing displacement of people inside Niger as well. The problems of these internally displaced people are now adding to those of refugees and returnees from Nigeria and those families hosting them who are already exhausted by two years of pressure and stress.

CARE's response:

CARE plans to scale up the response to humanitarian needs in the region, so far having reached more than 50,000 people with food, cash, drinking water or hygiene kits in southern Niger.

Media contact:
Laura Gilmour, News editor/Press Officer (Programme and Policy), +44 207 091 6063, gilmour@careinternational.org