Food aid resumes for refugees in Niger after Boko Haram scare

by Chris Arsenault | @chrisarsenaul | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 25 February 2015 15:21 GMT

Men who have fled violence in Nigeria sit on the ground at a refugee welcoming centre in Ngouboua, Chad. Picture January 19, 2015. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun

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Niger, with much malnutrition of its own, also shelters thousands of hungry, thirsty Nigerian refugees

ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Food aid is again flowing to thousands of refugees on the border between Niger and Nigeria, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Wednesday, ending a suspension of deliveries by humanitarian groups because they feared attacks by Boko Haram.

More than 100,000 people have fled violence in northern Nigeria in recent months for refugee camps or informal settlements in neighbouring Niger, following a wave of attacks by the Islamist militant group.

Some 3,000 people are expected to receive food aid from the WFP on Wednesday, following the suspension of humanitarian work earlier this month along some stretches of the border between the two west African nations.

"In the camps, there is a lack of access to basic services, a lack of food and clean water," WFP official Adel Sarkozi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"We are very concerned about the status of the newly arrived women and children." Many of the refugees are scattered in remote areas.

Niger was facing a hunger crisis even before the latest influx of refugees, with an acute malnutrition rate of 23.5 percent of its 17 million population, above the emergency threshold of 15 percent, according to a November assessment.

The WFP said it aims to provide food aid to 37,000 newly displaced people in Niger, a Sahel state, by the end of February.

Across Cameroon, Niger and Chad - countries impacted by violence in neighbouring Nigeria - the WFP plans to provide food aid to about 240,000 people this year.

(Reporting By Chris Arsenault; Editing by Tim Pearce)

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