OVER 23 people have been killed at a refugee camp in Niger Republic when the Borno State governor Babagana Zulum went there to distribute food items to its occupants and several were crushed in the ensuing melee.
In the border province of Diffa, there are about 120,000 Nigerians who have fled from the Boko Haram violence living there. Over the weekend, Governor Zulum travelled to Niger Republic to visit them and hand out essential items and foodstuffs but as soon as he left, a stampede began, in which some of those scrambling for food were crushed.
On Sunday, Governor Zulum had supervised the distribution of the food items to about 30,000 refugees before leaving with an instruction that the state emergency agencies should continue to distribute the materials. As he left, the officials tried to continue the distribution but then pandemonium broke out.
On Monday morning, refugees began to protest the delay in the continuation of the food distribution at the two distribution sites called the MJC Boys and Girls Club in Diffa province. it then resumed but locals living nearby then stormed the place with the hope of getting some food even though they were not entitled to it.
One aid agency official said: “After the governor had left, the officials continued the distribution at a venue called Gidan Wasa, where over 6,000 refugees received their aid. However, things went out of control the second day when some local Nigeriens got wind of the distribution exercise continuing on Monday.
“They rushed down to join the Nigerian refugees at the distribution locations and in attempts to be the first to get the relief items, a serious stampede ensued. Most of those that died were aged women and children, with 19 being Nigeriens, while four were Nigerians.”
He added that the fact that Nigeriens were involved in the stampede explains the fact that there is serious poverty and hunger in that axis. Isa Gusau, Governor Zulum’s spokesman, said the government will not be making any official comment on the matter now, until the governor receives a detail report of what transpired from the committee handling the distribution of the items to the refugees.