U.N. says more than 10% of Niger’s population needs aid due to violence, food shortages

Just over 10 percent of Niger’s population need humanitarian aid because jihadi violence that forced people to flee their homes has exacerbated the country’s food crisis, the U.N. said Saturday.

“For 2019, the analysis of humanitarian needs reveals that 2.3 million people, or 10.4 percent of the population of Niger, need humanitarian aid,” said a statement from the U.N.’s Niamey office.

Drought and flooding last year hit cereal production in Niger, causing the food shortages, say experts.

Prime Minister Brigi Rafini launched an appeal for $383 million to help 1.6 million “extremely vulnerable” people, state television reported.

Adding to that, deteriorating security in those regions had forced local people to flee, which means more aid is needed, a U.N. official said.

Many of those in need live in the western regions of Tahoua and Tillaberi, near Mali, the site of regular jihadi attacks, said the U.N.

Others live in the southeast region of Diffa, where the Nigerian jihadi group Boko Haram has committed atrocities.

Diffa is sheltering more than 300,000 people who have fled Boko Haram’s violence, including thousands supported by local people, who themselves are already poor.

The Tahoua and Tillaberi regions are hosting some 52,000 people who have fled jihadi violence since January last year and since 2012 has been home to more than 57,000 Malian refugees.

Last December the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR denounced the violence in those regions, where armed groups murdered or abducted civilians, burned down schools and pillaged homes, businesses and cattle.

Security was so poor there that it also interfered with distributing aid, the UNHCR added.

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