UN Refugee Agency condemns attack on Toumour, a town in south-east Niger
In a four-hour attack on December 12th, claimed by Boko Haram, assailants destroyed much of the town of Toumour in Niger, in the vicinity of the border with Nigeria. The attackers killed at least 28 people, burned the market to the ground, and slaughtered more than a thousand cattle, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), who vigorously condemned the attack.
“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, condemns an attack by armed assailants on Toumour, a town in south-east Niger, that killed 28 people and injured hundreds more,” said Babar Baloch, a spokesperson UNHCR at a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva. He added that “UNHCR is gravely concerned for the safety of over 30,000 refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) who have been sheltering in Toumour”.
Toumour, a town located in the south-east of Niger, 14 kilometers from neighbouring Nigeria, hosts 20,000 Nigerian refugees, more than 8,300 IDP’s, and 3,600 returnees – all in need of humanitarian assistance.
“As of Monday morning, 14 December, our teams and partners reported that people were on the move from Toumour toward Diffa, a town some 100 kilometres away”, the UNHCR spokesperson said.
“This town is already host to 46,000 refugees, asylum seekers, displaced people, including returnees. Together with humanitarian partners and local authorities, we are organizing emergency shelter, food, water, and health support to the affected communities,” Baloch said.
UNHCR and its partners are currently providing protection and humanitarian aid to more than 265,000 forcibly displaced people including nearly 130,000 Nigerian refugees and asylum seekers, 102,726 internally displaced Nigeriens, and 34,324 returnees in the Diffa region.
The COVID-19 pandemic, so UNHCR, further complicates the response as most of the displaced are sheltering in crowded urban areas where social distancing is impossible, according to the refugee agency.
“Diffa region in south-east Niger has been hard hit by increasing extremist violence on the Lake Chad Basin that has forced hundreds of thousands into the region”, Babar Baloch said. “In the first nine months of this year, over 450 acts of killing, kidnapping, sexual and gender-based violence, and other serious incidents were reported”.
According to UNHCR, Niger continues to show generosity towards people fleeing violence in the Lake Chad and Sahel regions.