Context - Background
UNHCR Niger responds to three main situations – the Mali Situation, the Nigeria Situation and the Mixed Migration Situation. Niger has been welcoming refugees from Mali since the outbreak of conflict in 2012, and continues to welcome new arrivals, despite the signature of a Peace Agreement in Algiers in 2015. Insecurity and conflict persist in parts of central and Northern Mali. The majority of Malian refugees are located in 3 camps in the region of Tillabery, others in a refugee hosting area (ZAR) in the region of Tahoua, and the remainder in urban centres in Niamey and Ayorou. There are currently 57,405 Malian refugees registered in Niger.
The region of Diffa in the south east of Niger, in the Lake Chad Basin, has been hosting refugees since 2013, when Boko Haram violence intensified in the North Eastern Regions of Nigeria. In 2015, the conflict in Nigeria crossed the border into Niger, with the first attacks in the Diffa region in February 2015. There are currently over 250,000 displaced persons scattered throughout the region, including 108,470 Nigerian refugees, as well as 129,015 IDPs and 14,820 returnees. UNHCR manages one official camp in the region which hosts less than 12,000 refugees, while the rest choose to remain living in spontaneous sites or amongst the community.
Niger is situated in a geopolitically sensitive area, linking the Sahara desert with the Sahel, and West with Central Africa. The country has developed into a major hub of migratory movements northwards to Algeria, Libya and the shores of the Mediterranean Sae to cross into Europe. With approximately 300,000 people passing through Niger per year (IOM figures 2016), UNHCR estimate that up to 30% of these persons may be potential asylum seekers in need of international protection. UNHCR Niger is working closely with the Government of Niger to improve RSD procedures in country, as well as to identify potential asylum seekers. The aim is to provide protection and durable solutions to the most vulnerable.