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The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Friday reported a spike of violence and displacement in March on the Niger-Nigerian border with attacks on civilians and military forces, which resulted in 88 civilian deaths.

Jens Laerke, OCHA’s deputy spokesperson, said at a UN briefing here that the jump in violence and displacement had occurred in the Diffa region in south-eastern Niger bordering Nigeria and Chad.

“It saw a spike of violence and displacement last month with at least 21 attacks against civilians and military forces resulting in 88 civilian deaths,” said Laerke.

OCHA said the 88 civilian deaths last month alone compared to a total of 107 killed during the entire year 2018.

The violence is related to increased activity of non-state armed groups in the Lake Chad Basin, principally Boko Haram.

Boko Haram has been trying since 2009 to establish an Islamist state in northeastern Nigeria, extending its attacks to countries in the Lake Chad basin.

The group posed enormous security, humanitarian and governance challenges in the basin, according to the United Nations.

“The Humanitarian Country team in Niger is concerned about what appears to be a shift in the pattern of offenses by these armed groups to target some of the most vulnerable people in the region, including already displaced communities and refugees,” said Laerke.

The 21 attacks in March triggered a movement of nearly 18,500 people towards the urban center of Diffa and other significant settlements in the region which already hosts over 100,000 internally displaced persons and almost 120,000 refugees.

The most populated hosting sites are Awaridi with nearly 8,000 displaced persons in the urban district of Diffa, and the location of Kindjandi with 2,500 displaced persons in the commune of Gueskerou. Enditem

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