UN condemns deadly attack on ‘refugee hosting area’ in western Niger
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the attack against a security post at a refugee hosting area in Tazalit, in the Tahoua region of Niger, bordering Mali, on 6 October, in which at least 22 members of Niger’s security forces were killed and several others were injured.
“The Secretary-General extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Niger. He wishes a swift recovery to the injured,” according to a statement issued today by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.
The statement went on to say that Mr. Ban calls on the authorities of Niger to pursue and bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice, and the he urges the Government of Niger to further reinforce security around refugee camps and other vulnerable targets.
According to William Spindler, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which also strongly condemned the attack, the ‘hosting area’ currently hosts almost 4,000 refugees, however none were harmed during the attack.
The agency said the armed assailants are reported to have arrived at the site in two pickup trucks. Witnesses say that following the attack, the assailants stayed in the area for up to two hours, and looted the health centre, stealing vital medical stocks. They also burned a UNHCR ambulance. No UNHCR staff or partners were present when the attack took place. The attackers then stole a military vehicle and fled, before support arrived.
“UNHCR strongly condemns these acts of violence against people who were working to protect and secure the safety of vulnerable Malian refugees, who have been forced to flee their country since violence and civil war broke out in 2012,” he said, adding that UNHCR is also troubled by the increasing number of violent incidents in the western regions of Niger bordering Mali, including ambushes, armed robbery and mine incidents.
Immediately following the attacks, UNHCR sent a team from Niamey to the site to identify needs and provide a response. Senior staff will travel to the area on Saturday to meet the community and the authorities and express support and solidarity, he added.