Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 13 December 2019

30,000 Nigerians flee to Cameroon from Boko Haram threat, UN says

The UN launched a $135 million emergency funding appeal

People gather outside a tent in one of the Internally Displaced People camps in Pulka, Borno State. AFP
People gather outside a tent in one of the Internally Displaced People camps in Pulka, Borno State. AFP

Tens of thousands of Nigerians have fled into neighbouring Cameroon in the last two days to seek refuge from a growing Boko Haram threat, the UN 's refugee agency said on Tuesday.

At least 30,000 people fled from the city of Rann, in Borno State, across the Cameroonian border over the weekend, the agency said.

Increased militant attacks targeting civilians have forced more civilians to leave their homes, creating worsening conditions at already cramped camps, a UNHCR spokesman said.

"The escalation in the conflict has thwarted people’s intention of returning to their homes. Some refugees that attempted to return to their homes and communities have become displaced multiple times inside Nigeria or have become refugees a second time in Cameroon, Chad and Niger," UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said on Tuesday.

Rann, in northern Borno state, near the border with Cameroon, has been repeatedly attacked by Boko Haram, most recently on January 14, when the militants targeted a military base.

The UN also announced a longer-term plan to help those made homeless from fighting.

Mr Baloch appealed for $135 million to help those displaced because of fighting by Boko Haram, to cater for the needs of those displaced.

Humanitarian organisations working in Rann were sent back across the border to Cameroon as fighting intensified, causing Cameroonian troops to be deployed as part of the regional response to the militants.

Walid Abdallahi, who was among those who fled, said there was now "not a single resident in Rann" and that Boko Haram had been "in control" of the town since Monday.

"We all left the town as soon as the Cameroonian soldiers withdrew because we knew we were vulnerable to Boko Haram who would no doubt launch an attack," he told AFP.

Mr Abadallahi also said the remaining Nigerian soldiers also withdrew "because their number was too small to face Boko Haram when they attacked".

Updated: January 29, 2019 07:30 PM

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