Niger deports Nigerians who fled Boko Haram ... because of Boko Haram
Niger plans to carry out a military strike against the militants
Niger deported 1,200 people who fled Nigeria so that it can carry out a military operation against Boko Haram, authorities in the French-speaking country said Saturday.
The 1,200 Nigerians are among the more than 6,000 that Niger has sent back as the Islamist militant group’s terror increasingly creeps over the border from northern Nigeria, according to Isa Umar Gusau, an adviser to Gov. Kashim Shettima of Nigeria’s Borno State.
Gusau said militants had infiltrated the area where the Nigerians had been staying, necessitating the military operation.
More evacuations are expected soon. Seventeen buses were dispatched to the border Saturday to pick up another 1,200 Nigerians. Nigeria has been the center of persistent attacks by Boko Haram.
“The 2,400 are not the only people we are expecting back in Borno from Niger, said Borno State emergency management chairman Alhaji Grema Terab. “Provisions have been made to get them housed” in existing refugee camps and one that that is being established for them.
The repatriation of refugees who initially fled because of Boko Haram back into those very same strongholds alarmed U.N. officials back in January, who called for a moratorium to the practice, which then only numbered in the hundreds.
“Given the volatile security situation in Borno State and the recent attacks by insurgents, UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) is concerned about the nature of these returns and has asked the authorities to stop this operation until there are proper safeguards and a legal framework between Nigeria, Niger and UNHCR,” spokesman William Spindler said.
CNN’s Brent Swails contributed to this report