Niger + 2 more

UNHCR Niger Update: Sahel Situation, September 2020


Sahel Situation

The Sahel regions have been hosting Malian refugees since 2012. They live in 3 sites in the Tillabery region and a refugee hosting area in the Tahoua region.

The rapidly deteriorating security context has caused increasing internal displacement flows in the same regions with rising numbers every month.

The presence of armed groups across the border has caused the internal displacement of a few thousand citizens from Burkina Faso into Niger.

Update on Achievements

Operational Context

Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso are all struggling to cope with numerous militant groups moving between the three countries. The security situation in the tri-border region of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali and hence the situation in the Nigerien regions of Tillabery and Tahoua has sharply deteriorated in recent years. This threat is forcing people to flee their homes, and further deprives vulnerable communities of critical basic services as armed groups directly target schools, health centers and other infrastructure. The civilian population is victim of extortion, targeted killings, cattle theft and shop looting and threatened to leave their villages. The national government of Niger has recently extended a state of emergency in the Tillabery region which was first introduced in 2017.

Since the beginning of the year, the security situation has been extremely volatile and worrisome with successive lethal attacks against military positions in Inates, Sine Godar and Agando. Several military positions have been abandoned by the defense and security forces and a resurge of massive attacks targeting the civilian population has been noted.
These attacks have triggered several waves of forced displacement of populations to more secure areas.
The armed groups have increasingly contaminated all the villages, killing mayors and local leaders, looting shops, stealing cattle, recruiting combatants, collecting forcibly the Islamic tax and threatening villagers to leave their homes. They have also systematically destroyed the education facilities with teachers being forced to flee. Thousands of children have been unable to attend school for a year. A constant pressure is exercised on the population that is submitted to severe reprisals in case of cooperation with the military and police forces.

The fluid occupation (insurrectional tactics of permanent control without permanent presence) has been expanding constantly.

The national government of Niger has recently extended a state of emergency in the Tillabery region which was first introduced in 2017. Mandatory military escorts and other measures render humanitarian access to several IDP hosting sites challenging and have delayed assistance to those in need.

The global sanitary crisis has heavily impacted on the operational context, including due to measures taken by the Government of Niger to limit the propagation of the virus. These measures had important consequences for humanitarian actors in the field.

During the month of August, insecurity continued in the Tillabery and Tahoua regions. The situation was marked by the killing of 7 humanitarians working for the NGO ACTED in the natural reserve of Kouré, as well as their guide. More and more roads in departments bordering the Malian border become too dangerous to take, which hinders humanitarian access and impacts on the protection environment in the broader region.

In the light of the above, UNHCR has issued an Emergency Declaration and declared a Level 2 Emergency in Niger in February 2020, which was extended for another 6 months in September 2020.