Niamey – The United Nations on Sunday warned that the Tillaberi region of western Niger was facing a “major food crisis”, with almost 600 000 people exposed to food insecurity.
The vast region of about the same size as South Korea or Hungary borders the so-called tri-border area, an unstable zone where Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali meet and which has been plagued by jihadist violence since 2017.
“Insecurity and recurrent attacks by suspected elements of non-state armed groups (NSAGs) targeting farmers and civilians will have serious repercussions this year on the already precarious food situation,” the UN Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs office warned in a report.
Nearly 600 000 people “are at risk of food insecurity”, the agency said.
The food crisis spectre has been summoned by “the abandonment of crop fields and difficulties in accessing markets”, the agency said.
“Those who dared to go to the fields were killed, they (the assailants) track us down in our huts and even in the mosques,” Hadjia Sibti, president of the Association of Women of Anzourou, a town often targeted by attacks, said in September.
The UN also warned of the situation in the department of Banibangou to the northeast of Tillaberi, where more than 79 000 people are likely to run out of food.
Between June and August 2021, “several dozen farmers” in Banibangou “were coldly murdered in their fields” by non-state armed groups, forcing the population “to abandon their fields”, noted Ocha.
As of 31 August, 765 348 people had received humanitarian assistance in the Tillaberi region, which is also home to 101 144 internally displaced persons, Ocha said.
However, the UN fears “a major food crisis” in this region and asked the government and its partners to take “strong measures commensurate with the scale of the situation”.
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