According to Associated Press (AP), the Niger Republic troops have deported more than 3,000 Nigerian fishermen and refugees escaping from Boko Haram. The refugees said they were compelled to return to Nigeria after Boko Haram last week attacked an island in Lake Chad. They also said the soldiers arrived at the fishing village of Lelewa and ordered them to leave. Niger officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
On Monday, Niger said it was planning a military operation in the area to rout Boko Haram extremists and ordered its citizens to move further inland. Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency said it was alerted by Niger and sent trucks to collect the exhausted refugees at the border. The agency’s director of search and rescue, Charles Otegbabe, registered the new arrivals in Gaidam town in the Northeastern Borno State.
“We thought there would be about 2,000 but we have already registered more than 3,000 and there are still more people coming,” he said.
The refugees said there are hundreds more on the way.
“They didn’t even give us time to collect our clothes. We had to abandon everything,” said Lubabatu Isa, a 21-year-old girl.
Isa and Nura Auwal, another refugee, said about a dozen people died during the three-day walk to the border, including a woman and her newborn twins. Niger is hosting more than 100,000 other Nigerian refugees who have fled Boko Haram and who apparently are being allowed to remain in camps outside the Lake Chad area.