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Niger’s Counter-Insurgency Drive Worsens Poverty, Hunger – UN

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), has said that tough counter-insurgency action in Niger after cross-border attacks by Boko Har...

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), has said that tough counter-insurgency action in Niger after cross-border attacks by Boko Haram is worsening hunger and poverty in the arid southeast of the country.

Niger’s representative for UNHCR, Karl Steinacker said that the counter-insurgency emergency measures were proving more harmful to the local population than the potential threat from Boko Haram.

“It’s a real misery. It seems like heavy-handed counter insurgency is creating havoc down in that area,” he said. “The real problem in Diffa is not Boko Haram, but the repression of Boko Haram,” Steinacker said, adding that there had been only one major Boko Haram attack on Niger in two months. “Motorbikes are the backbone of the transport system in south Niger, and the consequences of banning them are extremely negative.

Traders can’t get to markets, students can’t go to school, the sick can’t get to health posts,” he said. Steinacker said easing emergency measures would allow people to access markets and healthcare facilities and enable aid workers to reach local communities which would help local people as well as refugees who have fled Boko Haram attacks.

Boko Haram had recently expanded its carnage into Niger, Cameroon and Chad for the first time since launching its insurgency in 2009.

According to the United Nations, Boko Haram has killed over 6,000 people in 337 incidents in the region since January 2014, the vast majority in Nigeria, displacing some 1.5 million people.

A regional military force of troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger has increased security operations especially in the insurgent stronghold around Lake Chad, a freshwater lake that all four countries share.
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