SILVER SPRING, Md. – Following November 2010’s outbreak of civil war in Cote d’Ivoire, tens of thousands of Nigerians have fled the country, seeking refuge from recent attacks targeted against them.

Neighboring francophone countries have turned away the sizable number of Nigerian refugees, forcing thousands of men, women, and children to travel across Ghana, Togo, and Benin until reaching Nigeria, one of the few countries willing to accept refugees. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is responding to the needs of thousands of Nigerian refugees, as many of them have only received small portions of rice to sustain themselves.

ADRA’s intervention, focused in the Osun-State town of Iwo, will provide more than 400 families (1,740 persons) with a two-week supply of food. The food baskets include rice, black-eyed beans, fortified wheat flour, fortified semovita, maize, vegetable oil and iodized salt. In coordination with the local government ADRA identified the most vulnerable families in the community, giving priority to families with children as prime beneficiaries.

Many of the refugees escaping to Nigeria came with little to nothing, some whose only possessions were the clothes on their backs. As no refugee camps have been established as of the date of this release, the majority of natives have been given shelter by relatives, friends and strangers. Many of the exiles, although ethnically Nigerian, have never stepped foot into Nigeria and have experienced challenges assimilating into communities and adapting to unfamiliar languages.

Since the beginning of April, thousands of Nigerian refugees have arrived to the country by busloads. Recent reports from the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation stated more than 70% of arrivals have been women, many of whom are pregnant. According to ADRA Nigeria, amongst the large number of women there are significant numbers of children and elderly passing through the border. As of mid-May, the Osun State government reported Iwo town has registered 10,000 refugees.

In addition to ADRA’s food distribution, the agency is assessing future needs as many of the recent arrivals have expressed a desire to permanently settle in Iwo. As ADRA’s response continues to develop, more information will be provided.

The ADRA Africa Regional Office and ADRA International have funded this intervention.

To contribute to ADRA’s humanitarian efforts, please contact ADRA at 1.800.424.ADRA (2372) or give online at www.adra.org