N’DJAMENA (Reuters) - Chad’s prime minister has appealed for international aid for thousands of Nigerian refugees who fled attacks by Islamist militant group Boko Haram across the border into the Lake Chad region.
Around 2,000 Nigerians and 500 Chadians crossed the border into Chad in recent days, joining around 1,000 Nigerians who arrived some months ago, Prime Minister Kalzeubet Pahimi said.
U.N. agencies, the Chadian Red Cross and other groups conducted an evaluation mission this week to the area where the refugees are located and distributed supplies including soap, tarpaulins, biscuits and jerry cans, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said.
“Following insurgent attacks on five villages along the frontier between Chad and Nigeria between Dec 28 and Dec. 30, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated,” UNHCR said on Thursday. The agency put the total figure of Nigerian refugees in Chad at more than 5,000.
The militants have been waging an insurgency to establish an Islamist state in Nigeria’s northeast for five years. The number and scale of attacks rose sharply last year, after the government imposed emergency rule in the three worst-hit states.
Boko Haram has also launched cross-border attacks into Chad and Cameroon. In response, Chad’s President Idriss Deby has backed peace talks between Nigeria and the militants and beefed up border security.
Reporting by Madjiasra Nako; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Mark Trevelyan