Families in Africa include a vast network of relations; ties are strong. Many people in Niger’s border regions have relatives in Mali who have fled in the last weeks. Arriving with nothing, they settle near family members in hopes of building a new life. Over 400 new people have arrived in the RAIN partner community of Ingui, almost doubling the size of the village. They say they will never return to Mali.
There are no refugee camps in the Niger regions that lie between the Niger River and Mali where Ingui is located. There is no one to help the 400 refugees in Ingui and the many others like them, as aid agencies will not assist any group of refugees smaller than 1,000 individuals. They are living on the outskirts of the village with no containers to carry water from the well, drinking water from the nearby swamp. As a result, they are at high risk of cholera, bilharzia and other water-borne diseases.
Ahmoud, a RAIN partner and resident of Ingui, visited the Niamey office yesterday to update the staff regarding the refugees and their plight. Today he is returning with funds to purchase jugs to transport water from the well. RAIN will facilitate registration of the children from Mali with the Niger government so they can attend school. To help their families get back on their feet, we are developing small scale income-producing activities. The Hurlbut-Johnson Charitable Trusts is generously supporting the primary stages of this effort, but much remains to be done in Ingui and in communities facing similar challenges from the refugee influx. We’re all grateful for the opportunity to help these war victims build new lives and lessen the negative impact on rural communities in Niger.