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Niger says Boko Haram refugees to worsen its food crisis

NIAMEY (Reuters) - Niger faces a large cereal deficit and will struggle to feed its people as well as the thousands of Boko Haram refugees that have spilled over its border, the prime minister said on Wednesday.

Among the world's poorest countries, desertic Niger has suffered from recurrent poor harvests.

But this year, the food crisis could be exacerbated by tens of thousands of refugees who have fled clashes between Boko Haram and regional armies which have stepped up a campaign against them in neighbouring Nigeria.

"The state does not have enough resources to handle this situation and that's why we need help," Prime Minister Brigi Rafini said at a meeting with financial partners.

Agriculture minister Maidagi Alambey said the country faces a cereal deficit of around 230,000 tonnes in 2014/2015 due to uneven and insufficient rainfall.

The U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that 3.4 million people in the country faced food insecurity.

(Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalaki; Writing by Emma Farge; editing by Gunna Dickson)