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Afraid of Boko Haram? More than 30,000 Nigerians flee the city of Borno in two days -Nigerian

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Afraid of Boko Haram? More than 30,000 Nigerians flee the city of Borno in two days

More than 30,000 people fled over the weekend from the Nigerian city of Rann and across the border into Cameroon. The fear of renewed attacks by Boko Haram fighters had stressed the UN on Tuesday.

"The whole population seems to panic and they are fleeing to save their lives," said Babar Baloch, spokesman for the UN Refugee Agency, to reporters in Geneva.

Rann, near the border with Cameroon in the north of the state of Borno, had already experienced an exodus of about 9,000 people earlier this month, after 14 people were killed in an attack by Boko Haram on 14 January.

Baloch said that Cameroon has sent back the 9,000 refugees and has sent in troops that are part of a multinational task force to protect the city.

"It was a bit peaceful, but as far as we understand now, the multinational task force is leaving," he said.

The refugees had told the helpers that the Boko Haram fighters had "promised to return to Rann," he explained, explaining the panic.

He said UNHCR reiterated its appeal to the Cameroon authorities to "keep the borders open as we see thousands fleeing every day."

Baloch said that more than 80,000 civilians have recently come into violence in northeastern Nigeria to seek refuge in overcrowded camps or in Borno, "where they survive under difficult living conditions."

Rann has already accommodated about 80,000 displaced persons.

"The escalation of the conflict has thwarted people's intention to return to their homes," he said, adding that some refugees who tried to return home from Cameroon had been displaced several times within Nigeria or were forced back to be back in Cameroon.

"The hostilities have strained humanitarian operations there and forced the helpers to move away from some places," he said.

Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN relief organization, told reporters that "since the beginning of December, there have been 260 auxiliary workers who have been withdrawn from three locations in the state of Borno".

(AFP)

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