Niger: MSF Assists Victims of Violence in Diffa


On Wednesday night, an attack on the village of Gogoni in Niger killed 18 people and wounded 16 others. Around 100 houses were also burned down in the village, which is situated in the Diffa region’s Bosso district.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in the area assisted by organizing referrals for severely wounded civilians to Diffa hospital. An MSF nurse and a mental health counsellor visited a health center in Bosso town to evaluate the needs there as well, and staff will provide mental health support to the affected population of the village.

“After only 10 days of calm, we are witnessing another violent attack in Diffa,” says Omar Ahmed Abenza, MSF deputy head of mission in Niger. The region has been plagued by violence for the past year, which is having severe health consequences. “The already vulnerable situation of the population in Diffa, who are facing current peaks of malnutrition and malaria, has further deteriorated due to the ongoing violence. More and more of our patients are describing a devastating situation,” says Luis Encinas, MSF’s program manager for Niger.

According to the United Nations, Boko Haram, which is also known as Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) group, has launched more than 60 attacks in Diffa since this past February. The attacks, and fighting between the group and the Nigerien army, have driven some 47,000 people from their homes. Another 165,000 people who fled violence in northern Nigeria are also scattered throughout the area.

Only two weeks ago, around 9,000 people were displaced after attacks in nearby Barwa village. Women and children were reportedly abducted and cattle were stolen, too. MSF carried out a nutritional screening and distributed non-food items (nutritional supplements, blankets and mosquito nets) to 1,078 children under five years old. MSF is now constructing latrines and providing mental health assistance to this displaced population.

During the month of October, MSF carried out 4,601 outpatient consultations in Bosso district. More than half of the patients reported being traumatized by the ongoing violence. “This population has fled their homes to escape the violence in the Diffa region or northern Nigeria. They can’t find a safe place to stay and fear has become their routine,” says Abenza.

Since December 2014, MSF has been working in the Diffa region to assist the displaced people fleeing from violence occurring inside the region and in northern Nigeria. The organisation is currently working in the districts of Diffa, Nguigmi and Bosso, supporting several health centres, including a maternal and child health centre in the city of Diffa.

Thousands of people have fled their villages on islands in Lake Chad, in south-eastern Niger, after Nigerien authorities urged them to leave the area following the deadly attack of Boko Haram on the island of Karamga on 25 April. About 1,500 additional people are now in a transit site in Diffa, the capital of the region.