Yesterday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced that some 6,000 refugees have arrived to Niger from Nigeria, fleeing the Nigerian military’s offensive against Boko Haram. Reuters provides additional context.
Refugees from Nigeria add to existing and recent refugee influxes into Niger. I can count four major streams since 2011:
- Refugees from the 2011 post-electoral crisis in Cote d’Ivoire.
- Refugees from the Libyan civil war of 2011. In May 2011 AFP put the combined total of refugees from Cote d’Ivoire and Libya at 93,000. Some 60,000 of these were probably from Libya – more here. The final total from Libya, given that the war lasted for months after May, was undoubtedly higher. It is difficult to know how many of these refugees have been successfully resettled, but I would imagine many of them continue to live in precarious conditions.
- Refugees from the 2012-2013 crisis in Mali, whom UNHCR counts at 50,000-60,000.
- Refugees from northeastern Nigeria.
Throughout the crisis in Niger’s neighbor Mali, it has often been tempting – including for me – to examine Niger’s “success.” More accurate than calling Mali a failure and Niger a success would be to say that Niger faces its own problems and vulnerabilities, including refugee streams from multiple other countries in the region, and limited resources to give those people.