Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is assisting severely wounded civilians after an attack Wednesday night in Gogoni, a village in the Diffa region of south-east Niger. According to local authorities, 18 people have been killed, 16 wounded and around 100 houses have been burned during the attack.
An MSF nurse and a mental health counsellor visited the Bosso town health centre right after the attack to evaluate the needs. The medical staff of the Ministry of Health on site managed to treat the 16 wounded, six of whom have been referred to Diffa hospital. MSF has assisted with the referrals and will provide mental health support to the affected population of the village.
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“After only 10 days of calm, we are witnessing another violent attack in Diffa,” says Omar Ahmed Abenza, MSF’s deputy head of mission in Niger. During the month of October, MSF carried out 4,600 outpatient consultations in Bosso district. More than 50 per cent of the patients consulted reported being traumatized by the ongoing violence. “These people 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.
Only two weeks ago, around 600 families (9,000 people) were displaced after another wave of attacks in Bosso district. Women and children were reportedly abducted and cattle were stolen. Barwa village was left empty and the population scattered in neighbouring towns. MSF carried out a nutritional screening and distributed non-food items (nutritional supplements, blankets and mosquito nets) to more than 1,000 children under the age of five. MSF is now constructing latrines and providing mental health assistance to this displaced population.
According to the United Nations, since last February more than 60 attacks have been perpetrated in Diffa by the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) group, also known as Boko Haram, and battles between them and the Nigerien army are ongoing. As a result, more than 47,000 people have been internally displaced since February in the region, which is already hosting more than 165,000 people escaping violence from northern Nigeria. “The already vulnerable situation of the population in Diffa, which is 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.
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 organization 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.