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31 December 2011
In Niger, people have been internally displaced by armed conflict between government forces and Tuareg factions in the northern region of Agadez, and by clashes between sedentary farmers and nomadic pastoralists across the country and especially along the borders with Mali and Burkina Faso. Estimates of their numbers have been scarce as no monitoring mechanisms are in place. In 2007, some 11,000 people were reported displaced by clashes between the army and a new Tuareg militant group, the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ); at the end of 2011, it was unknown how many were still displaced.
The Tuareg insurgency broke out in 1990, driven by economic and political grievances. A 1995 agreement between the government and the different Tuareg factions put a halt to the violence, but the MNJ emerged in 2007 as Tuareg demands had not been met. The armed conflict abated in 2009 following talks between the government and the MNJ.
According to the ICRC, inter-communal violence has increased since 2009 in some areas including Tillabéry in north-west Niger. In 2011, Al-Qa’eda in the Islamic Maghreb extended its insurgent activities over the border from northern Mali. Levels of poverty and food insecurity also grew during the year; droughts and floods led to further displacement and the continuing degradation of rural land, while instability in neighbouring countries including Côte d’Ivoire, Libya and Nigeria meant that households could not rely on remittances from migrant workers there.
The government of Mamadou Tandja was overthrown in a military coup in 2010 and defeated by the opposition of Mahamadou Issoufou in presidential elections in March 2011.
The humanitarian community has focused its efforts on responding to the increasing food insecurity in the country, by targeting vulnerable groups including people internally displaced by drought and flooding in 2010.
Since the conflict between the Nigerien government and Tuareg groups intensified in 2007 following the creation of the Mouvement Nigérien pour la Justice, around 11,000 people have been displaced from their homes in mountainous areas north of Agadez. The conflict has abated in 2009, and many of the internally displaced people (IDPs) have started going back to their homes, whether spontaneously or with assistance from the local municipalities and the international community. With a state of emergency in place in the whole region and humanitarian access limited, the available information rarely gives a comprehensive assessment of the situation of either IDPs or returnees.
The conflict has severely affected people’s livelihoods in the region. Displacement has dis-rupted many pastoralists’ traditional ways of life as they have found refuge in towns. The reported use of landmines on both sides has cut supply routes and affected local agricul-tural production as well as threatening the security of both IDPs and conflict-affected com-munities. Children have been particularly affected by displacement. The humanitarian response has suffered from the lack of access and the impossibility of carrying out compre-hensive needs assessments. (...)
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08 September 2009