This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Nearly 300,000 Displaced in North-East By Boko Haram

Besides the huge human casualties visited on the people of the North-east by the unbridled violence of the Boko Haram, lies the anguish of even the living, many of whom have been displaced from their hearth and home.

Reports indicate that about 300,000 people, more than half of them children, have fled their homes in the North-east since May last year because of violence linked to the Boko Haram scourge, the United Nations said Thursday.

Three states in the region: Yobe, Borno and Adamawa, have been under emergency rule since last May 14, when the military launched a massive offensive to stamp out the insurgency, which has killed thousands since 2009.

Credible figures, including for casualties, have been difficult to obtain, as waves of attacks across a swathe of remote territory have made it impossible for most rescue agencies to operate. But the UN's humanitarian office (OCHA) said a total of 290,002 people have been internally displaced in the three states under emergency rule as of January 1, 2014.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), OCHA said the aggregated figures were "verified and conservative estimates" based on reports from humanitarian, development and relief agencies working in Nigeria.

The population in Borno - the epicentre of the conflict and where Boko Haram was founded more than a decade ago - has been the hardest-hit, with 189,318 displaced. In Yobe, the figure was 71,491, and in Adamawa, 29,193.

Citing figures provided by National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the UN said 51 per cent of those displaced were children.

OCHA said providing assistance to those affected has been a challenge because of the continuing unrest. Several persons had been attacked and killed on the highway.

The UN has not collated figures for those displaced in 2014 but the violence has continued unabated. Many communities within the border zones have been in the eye of the attacks, forcing many of the survivors to flee into neighbouring countries.

But the International Red Cross said on February 6 that from August last year to the end of January, it had helped provide more than 18,000 people in Borno with shelter and essentials, including food.

More than 300 people have been killed already this year, including 43 students who were slaughtered while they slept at a Federal Government College, in Yobe on Tuesday.

In Adamawa late on Wednesday, hundreds of suspected militant fighters besieged two local councils, destroying homes and businesses with heavy weaponry and explosives. The scourge continues.

NAN

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