"We must fear a humanitarian catastrophe, if nothing is done," Boureima Issaka of the Niger-based aid group Timidria said in Chinegodar, a small village that has seen an influx of some 6,000 refugees in less than a month.
They have sought shelter from a conflict in Mali between government troops and armed rebels that has caused dozens of casualties on either side.
The combat began on January 17, when the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA) launched an attack in northern Mali -- the largest offensive by Tuareg rebels since 2009 -- sparking clashes with the army.
Western Niger's small village of Chinegodar, 10 kilometres (six miles) from the border, has grappled with a food crisis following a country-wide drought and the influx of refugees has further stretched resources.
The village, which normally numbers 1,600 residents, has also seen its only well dry up, prompting a severe water shortage, according to the village chief.
Children are among those suffering from malnutrition and dehydration in the refugee camp.
"These children are terribly hungry; we can hear their crying every night," said Balki, a Chinegodar resident who is sheltering 10 of the refugees in her modest home.
According to officials and aid groups, about 10,000 people fleeing the Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali and reprisal attacks in Bamako have crossed into Niger, more than 4,500 into Mauritania and 1,500 into Burkina Faso.
General conditions in the Niger refugee camp are also poor, according to Boureima Issaka, the aid worker.
"The majority of people no longer bathe; they sleep under the stars at the mercy of wind, cold nights, scorpions and snakes," Issaka said.
Shelters made of blankets and cloth protect the refugees from the hot sun and cold nights, but the situation remains bleak.
A United Nations mission visited the village last week and found conditions to be extremely difficult and the hygiene deplorable, prompting fear of a cholera epidemic.
The crisis is compounded by the fact that the Malian region of Menaka -- one of the main flashpoints in the latest fighting -- was the principal source of essential commodities for Chinegodar.
For now, the Chinegodar mayor's office has offered the refugee camp half a tonne of cereal, Doctors Without Borders provided a few boxes of medicine and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working on the water supply.
The refugees themselves leave early in the morning to pick berries or pods of "Dani," a thorny plant sought out in times of scarcity.
Still, some refugees have not eaten in days and wait anxiously for aid. "Give us something to eat, I suffer from dizziness," Nako, a Malian woman in the refugee camp, told a Doctors Without Borders team tallying the number of malnourished children.
--- This article originally appeared on Africasia.