Society - The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says nearly 6,000 people have fled fighting in Nigeria to neighbouring Cameroon and Niger in the past 10 days after reporting that several people had been killed, their villages bombed and at least two villages burned to the ground. UNHCR spokesperson, Mr. Adrian Edwards, in a statement on Friday said: 'We continue to urge States in the region to keep their borders open for Nigerians who are fleeing their country and may need international protection.
'We are also advising against any forced returns.'
Of the more than 4,000 who fled to Cameroon since mid-January, most are in the Logone-et-Chari area of Far North Region.
According to local Cameroonian authorities, with this new influx, there were now 12,428 Nigerian refugees in Cameroon.
Of that number 2,183 have so far been moved to a UNHCR camp at Minawao, 130 km further inland.
Edwards said together with partner agencies UNHCR was providing refugees with shelter, health, sanitation, education, food, and other help.
He said that a UNHCR team in Cameroon's Far North Region had spoken with refugees from the area around Banki, a town just across the border in Nigeria's Borno State.
Edwards said the refugees stated that their villages were bombed, several people had been killed and that at least two villages were burned to the ground.
He in Niger, 1,500 new refugees, mostly women and children, arrived in the Diffa region of south-east Niger, saying they fled a 16 January mosque attack in the village of Gashagar just across the border.
Edwards dded that seven people were reportedly killed during the attack, and seven cars were burned as well as 60 shops. The refugees are being hosted by local communities, and UNHCR is sending relief aid.
Nigeria's northern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe have been under a state of emergency since May 2013 as the army fights Islamist Boko Haram rebels, and the continuing violence has displaced thousands of people.