Niger Refugee Situation

By | May 15, 2021

Transit country Niger

Currently (spring 2020) the UNHCR has converted stadiums into isolation sites for refugees. Refugees from West Africa are stranded in Niger because of the Corona crisis.

The flow of refugees from Africa to the EU has increased massively again since spring 2016. The main transit country is still Niger. A new economic field had opened up with the “people smuggling” and it was therefore possible to create alternative sources of income for the locals in Agadez. After tourism in Niger, especially in the north of the country, came to a standstill, the refugee business ensured a small economic boom. How intensely Niger will campaign against this movement ultimately also depends on the funds flowing into Niger from the EU, said the Foreign Ministers of Germany and France during their joint visit to Niger in May 2016. Since May 2015, the Niger den Human trafficking made a criminal offense, punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment; implementation of the law is difficult and interest in its implementation is low.

According to extrareference, the Nigerien’s request that the European Union should help on the issue of migrants should be met in the form of a migration center – supported by the IOM (International Organization for Migration). In May 2016, a center for advice and aid to migrants was set up in Agadez, once the pearl of the Sahara. Almost a year after commissioning even visited the Director General of the IOM, the center and it was followed by a further visit of the Director General in 2018. At a conference of States affected by the migratory flows, it was decided on March 16, 2018 that migrants and refugees should be protected, the defense forces and border guards strengthened and alternative sources of income sought.

It is important to note that there are always few Nigerians who make their way to Europe; they tend to emigrate to labor to Libya and Algeria.

Not only do many people die while crossing the Mediterranean – there are few articles in the press about the people who lost their lives in the Sahara. To bypass the police station, the tugs choose routes with little traffic. The bodies of people who have died of thirst are often only found months or years later and can then no longer be identified. However, it can be assumed that three times as many people lose their lives in the desert as in the Mediterranean. The transport through the Sahara is traded at a relatively fixed price of € 230.

Refugees from Mali

Since the outbreak of the uprisings in Mali (January 17, 2012), tens of thousands of people have fled to Niger. In the summer of 2016, around 60,000 Malian refugees were living in Niger and their number did not change at the turn of the year 2017/18; It is not uncommon for violent attacks to occur. Almost 60,000 Malian refugees were still living in Niger in 2019.

Border areas Niger-Mali / Niger-Burkina Faso

The border areas to the two western neighbors are always places of retreat for terrorists. At the end of 2019, a number of terrorist attacks were carried out again: Inates (Niger), which not only claim military casualties but also, as in the case of Aribinda (Burkina Faso), many civilian deaths.

The threats from Boko Haram – not only in the south-east of the country

On August 9, 8 people (6 French tourists and 2 Nigerien) were victims of an armed attack in the Kouré region.

Attacks on military bases (and also civilian targets), primarily in the south-east of the country, are like the offensive attacks by Boko Haram for years; the last larger one was at the end of May 2020.

At the turn of the year 2018/19, the Nigerien army carried out a successful military offensive against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad area, in which 300 Boko Haram supporters were killed. And the Nigerien military continues to use all its means to eliminate Boko Haram on Nigerien soil. This is done with the support of the cross-border G5 Sahel troops. In order to be able to proceed successfully, it is considered important that the relationship of trust with the population in the affected regions improves.

The refugee situation in the area of the Nigerian-Nigerien border is still critical. In May 2013, the Nigerian President declared northern Nigeria (Borno, Yobe and Adamaua states) a disaster area due to the attacks on Boko Haram. The southeast of Niger is repeatedly hit by various crises that are accumulating. The Nigerian refugees make the supply situation of the local population considerably more difficult. According to the UNHCR report, there are currently almost 120,000 Nigerian refugees living in southeast Niger and around 25,000 Nigerians who fled from Nigeria, where they lived / worked.

According to PAM (Projet alimentaire mondiale / WFP), food support in the Diffa region affects around a quarter of the population. In this situation in particular, the south-east of Niger needs considerable support in providing food for the local population and the refugees from Nigeria. The violence and spread of the attacks in Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon increased significantly in number and intensity until May 2015.

The people left the Chad Islands to escape Boko Haram and were returned to their places of origin, all the way to Senegal. They could not return for years. Since the beginning of 2018, a good 1,000 people have returned to the Nigerien Lake Chad Islands to continue fishing or to find pasture for their animals – they are entering restricted zones.

Niger Formal state structure