Some thousand people fleeing Boko Haram attacks in Kolikolia, Borno State, last Thursday arrived on the uninhabited island of Choua in Lake Chad, according to the UN’s refugee agency,UNHCR.
The island lies in Chadian waters about four kilometres from where the borders of Chad, Nigeria and Niger intersect.
Refugees reported that they fled violence and attacks on their village that resulted in the destruction of their houses and food reserves.
The group, which includes mainly women and children, is in urgent need of food, water, shelter and medical care, the agency said.
At the request of the government of Chad, the refugees will be relocated to the safer and more accessible hosting area in Ngouboua, some 30 kilometres from the border, where a number of Nigerian refugees and Chadian returned refugees already live among hosting villages.
Chadian authorities have provided two helicopters for the relocation of refugees from Choua to Ngouboua, which is expected to have begun yesterday (Wednesday).
UNHCR and its partners (WFP, UNICEF, WHO, OCHA and UNFPA, among others) have sent aid packages – including high energy biscuits, water purification kits, mosquito nets, communal tents, sleeping mats and other household items – to Ngouboua.
The newly arrived refugees report that more Nigerians are likely to arrive in Chad soon as Boko Haram continues unleashing terror on Nigeria’s north east.
In line with UNHCR’s strategy to seek alternatives to camps, newly arrived refugees from Nigeria will be settled in villages in and around Ngouboua, with assistance also provided to the host population.
UNHCR is establishing a field office in the Lake Chad area to monitor the situation, coordinate the response with partners on the ground, and ensure protection and assistance to refugees.