Most of the new arrivals are women and children and, according to their testimonies, they walked for four or five days, though only at night, for fear of being attacked by Boko Haram or detained by the army.
Many of the new arrivals were hosted by the local population, many of them displaced persons and refugees themselves, and who continue to show great solidarity with the new waves of displacement and share the limited resources they have.
Despite this support, 77 of the families newly arrived in Toumour were living in very poor conditions, without enough food and without any basic materials. To alleviate this situation, an MSF team has distributed NFI (Non-food items) kits –with domestic items, blankets, mosquito nets and hygienic kits– to these 77 families.
Djoumai Tchaiman, 28 years old, was one of the refugees who received the aid kit. “I come from Lake Chad, on the border between Nigeria, Chad and Niger. We had been wanting to leave there for a long time due to the insecurity but we couldn’t because we didn’t know where Boko Haram might be. We took the opportunity to flee when there were problems between them and they were going to fight near our village. It was 8 pm. After four days walking, we arrived in Toumour – me, my five children, my husband and my parents-in-law. Unfortunately, when we arrived my husband was arrested by the military as a suspect. Right now, I don’t know where he is.”
With the arrival of the new refugees, there have been many medical consultations linked to fatigue and stress at the health centre in Toumour (supported regularly by MSF) due to the long days of walking and the fear of being attacked or arrested. MSF has also strengthened the nutritional supplementation for the newly displaced children under five years old and their families.
New refugees continue to arrive
In addition to these 200 families, small groups of refugees continue to arrive inToumour. Although many aid organisations left the area after the attacks that took place last June in the district of Bosso, where Toumour is located, the town still has several services in place: water points and a health centre where medical attention is free for the entire population. For new arrivals, the main problem is access to food; although there are basic foods in the market, the displaced people have no money to buy them.
“Given the critical situation in the areas of Nigeria and Chad bordering with Niger, it is likely that Toumour will continue to receive more refugees and in such a precarious condition as this last group,” explains Youssouf Demdelé, MSF’s deputy head of mission in Niger. “The population has not been able to grow their own food and is dependent on food distributions. In addition, we are in the middle of the malaria season. There are several humanitarian agencies working in Diffa but there are still areas where more help is needed.”
As the MSF team distributes the NFI kits, they are approached by a neighbour of Djoumai Tchaiman. “It's a very human gesture what you are doing, even though we do not benefit because we were displaced earlier. It's fair. The whole neighbourhood is aware of Djoumai and her children’s situation,” she says.
MSF has been working in Diffa region since December 2014. To improve healthcare for the local and displaced population, MSF is working alongside the Ministry of Health in the main maternal and paediatric health centre in the city of Diffa, in the district hospital in Nguigmi and in several centres in the districts of Diffa, Nguigmi and Bosso. MSF is also providing assistance in Assaga, GarinWanzam and Kintchandi, where thousands of displaced people have settled. In 2015, MSF conducted more than 142,000 medical consultations in the region.
Find out more about MSF's activities in Niger.