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Boko Haram displaced people unwilling to return home

Boko Haram displaced people unwilling to return home


Among the tragic stories of the 2.6 million people who have fled villages attacked by Boko Haram in the north-east of Nigeria, is that of Bitrus Yakubu.

He was joined with his wife just a few weeks ago after each of them had run to different directions after being raided by the Islamist militia, Boko Haram.

Bitrus and his wife, Maryam, live with their seven-month-old baby, together with other two children under a tent, in one of the many camps of displaced persons at Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.

If no measures are taken, how can I go back? How can I take myself to death?

But this farmer of 45 years is not ready to return home to Baga, on the shores of Lake Chad.

“If no measures are taken, how can I go back? How can I take myself to death? Only when (Baga) is secure and everything has been put back in place, that’s when we will go back,” said Bitrus Yakubu.

Even the task force who volunteer at the Maiduguri camp see a security threat as the major reason for refugees’ long-time stay at the camp.

“They don’t want to go home. The reason they don’t want to go home is because their house has been burnt. They don’t have anything. Some left and they came back due to lack of food, so they have come back to the camp again,” said Elisabeth Antiza, a volunteer at Maiduguri camp.

Women and children have been the worst victims of the vicious attacks forcing them to stay in camps with limited access to the basic resources. But, despite this, some have vowed not to go back home to their respective villages.

“Boko Haram are in my village. People fled, my child fled, but my husband was killed. If our people return with Boko Haram everywhere in my village, how do we get in? Our village is full of Boko Haram,” said Ramatu John, refugee at the camp.

Some of the internally displaced people (IDPs) are now being escorted home by soldiers and only being taken to holding camps wherever there’s a military presence.

Reconstruction of some villages is also taking place, which is now reaping a lot of funds from the Nigerian government. For now, life remains on hold for thousands of refugees in the camps.