21 March 2019

Nigeria: Boko Haram Victims Cannot Cope With City Life

Photo: T Mosch/Deutsche Welle
Many Nigerians in the northeast have fled Boko Haram attacks and now live in refugee camps.

Maiduguri — Nigerian cities are battling an influx of tens of thousands of people uprooted from their rural communities by the Boko Haram terror group northeast of the country.

The surge has placed additional strain on the urban centres.

In early 2019, more than 30 000 people descended on the town of Maiduguri, while 20 000 people arrived in Mungono, a town close to Lake Chad. An additional 35 000 people fled to Cameroon.

The affected cities are in the Borno State, which is the base of the Boko Haram, an Islamist sect involved in a violent campaign to overthrow the government. An estimated 100 000 civilians have been killed while more than one million others displaced.

Most survivors have settled in 14 camps in the town of Maidugiri, the state capital.

Prior to the recent influx, the conditions in the camps were already dire.

"In one camp that received a particularly high number of people, the infrastructure is close to collapse," said Markus Dolder, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) regional coordinator.

Dolder said schools that were running can no longer function as there were too many people. Schools are also used to shelter disclosed victims.

"There is less food and clean water available. Access to health care is limited. Given the level of overcrowding, there is a heightened risk of disease outbreaks," Dolder said.

Douglas Khayat, an ICRC mental health delegate, said many struggled to adapt to an urban setting. Some were farmers and herders before displacement

"Some people have never been to a big city before," Khayat said.


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