Intensifying Nigeria unrest sends 7,300 fleeing to Chad: UN
A spike in Boko Haram attacks in northeastern Nigeria has sent some 7,300 people fleeing to neighbouring Chad in a matter of days, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.
Members of the armed Islamist movement on Saturday captured the town of Baga in Borno state.
The town lies close to Lake Chad, where the borders of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon converge, and the town has been attacked by the group before.
Boko Haram went on to destroy at least 16 towns and villages on Wednesday in the remote north of Borno state.
"In western Chad, some 7,300 Nigerian refugees have arrived in the past 10 days, fleeing attacks by insurgents on Baga town and surrounding villages," Adrian Edwards, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.
"With the recent influxes, Chad is now hosting over 10,000 refugees," Edwards said, adding that the government has requested assistance from aid agencies.
Chadian authorities has asked UNHCR to help relocate more than 1,000 refugees reportedly stranded on an island in Lake Chad, he added.
Boko Haram, which has declared a "caliphate" in zones it controls in northeast Nigeria, has become increasingly active across the borders of Cameroon and Niger.
Edwards said the conflict in northeastern Nigeria has led to an exodus of about 135,000 people, including 35,000 who have sought refuge in Cameroon and 10,000 in Chad.
At least 850,000 others have been internally displaced within the Nigerian states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, he said.
The Boko Haram conflict has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2009.
The Islamist group was founded in Maiduguri more than a decade ago and the northern city was the epicentre of the conflict until its fighters were pushed out into more rural parts of the northeast.
© 2015 AFP