Niger: New Attacks Displace Tens of Thousands in Diffa

Sylvain Cherkaoui / Cosmos for MSF

On June 3, the town of Bosso, in Niger’s Diffa region was attacked by the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), also known as Boko Haram. The raid, during which dozens of soldiers were reportedly killed, was one of the deadliest ever in the region. And it forced tens of thousands of people—including most of the population of Bosso and the neighboring towns of Yébi and Toumour—to flee.

The majority of these newly displaced people had already been displaced by violence previously; Bosso and surrounding areas were supposed to be a sanctuary.

After the initial attack, people living in Bosso escaped to Toumour, a few kilometers to the west. People from several locations are now on the move again. Some are heading towards Diffa, the capital of the region, although the chaos and fear in the area makes it difficult to know where these people will settle.

With each passing day, these people become more vulnerable. A Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team has been conducting an evaluation to determine how best to respond to their most urgent needs.

“MSF is trying to help the displaced population, to provide basic assistance, including water and sanitation activities, shelter and healthcare,” says Elmounzer Ag Jiddou, MSF’s head of mission in Niger. “A lot of people are heading in different directions. Some are in the middle of nowhere and it is very difficult to assist them. Together with the different actors and the government, we need to see how to facilitate access and organize help.”

In Yébi, MSF was managing a health post that provided assistance to people who had already been displaced—until it was destroyed in an earlier attack, on May 19. Activities were resumed a few days later, but now the MSF program in Yébi is suspended due to the wholesale lack of security. MSF is still providing care in Nguigmi, another district north of Bosso, and in Diffa.  

MSF has been working in the Diffa region since December 2014. The organization is supporting several health centers there, as well as the main maternal and child center in Diffa town and the Nguigmi district hospital. MSF is also providing medical care in the camp in Assaga. In 2015, MSF carried out more than 142,000 medical consultations in the region.


Since February 2015, the region of Diffa, in Niger, has become the target of attacks by the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), also known as Boko Haram. The continuous violence has caused an exodus of more than 300,000 people. For months, the displaced population has settled around main cities and villages of Diffa, Nguigmi and Bosso districts, as well as in makeshift camps along the RN1 road that connects Diffa with Niamey, the capital of Niger. They are living in very precarious conditions. The majority are fishermen or farmers but, for security reasons, the Niger authorities have banned their access to the banks of the Komadougou river, where they carried out all their activity. In this context, MSF is working to support several health centres in the region, as well as the main maternal and child centre in the city of Diffa and the Nguigmi district hospital. MSF is also providing medical care in several displacement camps and sites.
Sylvain Cherkaoui / Cosmos for MSF