The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has stated that conflict and insecurity have multiplied the number of refugees and internally displaced persons in the Sahel tenfold between 2013 and 2021.
According to a report issued over the weekend by the United Nations agency, the number of refugees in the Sahel region has risen to 2.1 million.
The report added that “a surge in violent attacks across the region in 2021 displaced nearly 500,000 people, with figures for December still pending.”
Terrorists operating across the Sahel region, the report noted, have carried out over 800 attacks, primarily in Mali, Niger Republic, and Burkina Faso, forcing people to flee their homes in search of safety.
The Sahel region faces security challenges, primarily from various Jihadi organisations, rebel groups, and ethnic militias. The region is also seen as a migration and converging point for Islamist terrorists from different parts of the world.
Boko Haram, based in Nigeria and some parts of Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, and its offshoot group, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), have continued to raid communities on Lake Chad’s shores.
The spillover effects of the conflict between rebels and the government in the neighbouring Central African Republic have also forced people to flee their homes.
In the desert north of Chad, homegrown insurgents threaten the government’s efforts to reach an agreement with Libya on broader security arrangements which has negatively impacted residents.
The Northwestern region of Nigeria, which is the neighbouring Niger Republic, has also seen an increase in the number of people displaced due to a form of terrorism known locally as banditry.
According to the UN report, over 410,000 IDPs and 36,000 refugees left their homes in the countries during the period. The number of people displaced from their homes in Niger Republic’s Tillabery da Tahoua states has increased by 53 per cent.
The report added that aid workers face difficulties reaching refugee camps due to ongoing terrorist attacks on the road, where their vehicles are confiscated.
“Host communities have continued to show resilience and solidarity in welcoming displaced families, despite their scant resources. Government authorities have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to assisting the displaced but are buckling under increasing pressure,” the report said.
However, a UN organisation requires $307 million to address the refugee crisis in Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali by 2022.
UNHCR has called on the international community to take bold and necessary actions in supporting the countries affected by instability to bring about peace, stability, and development to the region.
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