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Conflict and hunger

Niger Crisis Watch

The International Rescue Committee provides vital support to Nigerian and Malian refugees fleeing violent conflicts, to Nigerien returnees and internally displaced persons, and to overstretched host communities.

What's happening

  • Two of the largest attacks in the history of the current conflict in Niger killed unknown numbers of civilians and displaced over 40,000 people on May 19 and Jun 3, 2016.

  • Victims of Boko Haram’s war urgently need protection and humanitarian assistance. Families continue to live in the open, under trees, without adequate access to basic lifesaving assistance.

  • The world is currently focused on a military solution to the Boko Haram insurgency, while the humanitarian and protection needs of 9 million people across the Lake Chad Basin region are being consistently forgotten.

The IRC and other aid groups call for action
Country facts
  • Total population: 17 million
  • People displaced by crisis: 291,000
  • Rank in Human Development Index: 188 of 188
IRC response
  • Started work in Niger: 2013
  • People assisted in 2015: 182,150
  • People we hope to reach per year by 2020: 508,780

Niger crisis briefing

Niger, a landlocked country in West Africa, is prone to political instability, chronic food insecurity and natural crises. The IRC helps vulnerable Nigeriens meet urgent needs and provides support to refugees uprooted by violence in neighbouring countries.

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What caused the current crisis in Niger?

Since the 1980s, Niger has been ranked at the bottom of the Human Development Index. The country continues to be plagued by political instability, natural crises and disease outbreaks. Frequent droughts and floods leave farmers struggling to feed millions; over half the population requires food assistance.

In addition to these challenges, Niger regularly absorbs influxes of refugees from neighboring countries, including Mali and Nigeria.

Almost 200,000 people fleeing from militant group Boko Haram now live in makeshift camps in Niger's Diffa Region. Recently, Boko Haram attacks in Niger have forced thousands of Nigeriens to flee their villages to seek refuge in larger towns.

What are the main humanitarian challenges in Niger?

With one of the highest fertility rates in the world and refugees continuing to cross the border, basic resources such as food and water are dwindling in Niger. A new period of drought threatens to leave 2.5 million people without enough food, according to the United Nations.

Fewer than 5% of refugees live in camps; most reside with host families or in dangerous shelters, where the delivery of aid is not consistent. Malnutrition remains a chronic issue and many children do not have access to education.  

As violence continues to spread across the region, people live in fear and uncertainty, forced to keep moving in search of safety and resources. In many areas, displaced people struggle to survive without any help.

How does the IRC help in Niger?

We first began assisting Nigeriens in 2013, providing emergency and protection assistance to refugees and returning Nigeriens. Despite increased violence at the border, the IRC continues to work with local communities and support those in need.

As the country struggles to recover from natural disasters and to support an influx of refugees from neighboyring countries, the IRC is focusing our efforts in the Diffa, Tillaberi and Tahoua regions by:

  • providing essential equipment and medicine to local health care centres
  • ensuring the welfare of refugees through child-protection and prevention of violence against women
  • screening and treating severely malnourished children and offering training in nutrition and hygiene
  • digging wells to irrigate crops
  • providing rapid-response emergency relief for Nigerian refugees and Nigeriens affected by crisis
  • building classrooms and training teachers to support refugees and local children affected by violence and poverty
  • operating programs that provide cash transfers, food vouchers and agricultural support to vulnerable families

Crisis briefing updated June 2016

Get updates from the IRC's Niger country director, Matias Meier, on Twitter. Read an article by Meier on the innovative use of an adaptive programming approach in the Diffa region.

What still needs to be done?

The violent seven-year conflict originating in Nigeria has intensified in the last several years and spread across borders into Niger, Chad and Cameroon, causing a growing humanitarian crisis in a region known as the Lake Chad Basin. Read recommendations from the IRC and other aid groups working in the region in our Sep 2016 policy paper: "Lake Chad's unseen crisis." 

Download the IRC's Niger strategy action plan to learn more about our programme priorities until 2020.

Our impact

In 2015, the IRC and our partner organisations in Niger provided:


people with access to clean drinking water and sanitation.

Niger has seen an influx of thousands of refugees fleeing violence in Nigeria. We’re working to ensure there is enough water for everyone.

Learn more about health.

men and women with information on preventing and responding to human rights abuses.

We work to foster good governance and a respect for human rights law.

Explore our work on empowerment.

people with emergency cash and asset transfers so they can provide for themselves and their families.

Cash support gives people caught in crisis flexibility to buy goods and services that meet their individual needs.

Read about economic wellbeing.

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