A Tale of Woes for Persons Displaced by Boko Haram and Other Terror Groups in Northern Nigeria

The various conflicts in Northern Nigeria, especially the activities of Boko Haram and other terror groups in the region, have brought about a huge humanitarian crisis. The conflicts have displaced millions of people from their ancestral homes forcing them to become refugees in their own country. In its effort to ease the plight of these displaced persons, the federal government established Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps to serve as temporary shelter for them.

But the IDP camps are plagued with a lot of problems such as lack of food, the problem of shelter, poor health care, poor access to education, and lack of access to a clean water supply. The living conditions at these IDP camps are deplorable.

The terrible conditions in the camps tell a tale of woes for these displaced persons.

First, they managed to escape from the terrorists’ brutal attacks on their communities which left many dead and their homes burnt. Many of them in the camps were the sole survivors in their families, having lost all other family members and relations to those horrendous attacks.

Some of the women and girls in these camps had escaped from Boko Haram captivity where they were sex slaves in forced marriages.

Then, just when they thought that the worst was over for them and that some relief had come their way by way of the government’s provision of the displaced persons’ camps, they worked into another round of woes perpetrated by yet another set of heartless men.

The next paragraphs will highlight some of the prevalent problems in the displaced persons’ camps across Northern Nigeria.

1. Inadequate or deplorable accommodation facilities

Across many of the displaced persons’ camps, accommodation facilities available are not adequate mostly due to the large influx of people into the camps as the conflicts continue to displace them from their homes. The state of the available facilities is also a major cause for concern as it is deplorable and uninhabitable. 

2. Deaths from diseases largely due to malnutrition and poor and unhygienic living conditions

Perhaps the most heartrending woe befalling the inmates of these displaced persons’ camps is the death of their children from diseases associated with malnutrition. The severely malnourished children in the camps are particularly vulnerable to the attacks from all kinds of illnesses because their immunity to diseases is very low as a result of poor nutrition. Besides this, the deplorable and unhygienic conditions in the camps make them easy prey to disease-transmitting vectors.

3. Hunger as a result of an inadequate supply of food

Across all the displaced persons’ camps in the various northern states, the inmates’ most common complaint is the inadequacy in the supply of food which leaves them hungry most of the time. This situation forces them to take menial jobs within the adjourning communities or resort to begging for alms to supplement what they get from the camps.

4. Diversion of food and other relief materials meant for the displaced persons by unscrupulous officials

The real problem is not that the camps lack food supplies.The federal government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) strives to supply food items to the camps. International and local nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations, corporate organizations, the private sector, and individuals also make considerable financial and material donations to the camps.

But unscrupulous officials in charge of disbursing these supplies are profiteering from the misfortune of the displaced persons. The very unfortunate tale of massive sleaze involving officials of State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMA) of the respective states, security agents, and camp officials, leaves a sour taste in the mouth. The racketeering that goes on in these camps deprives the displaced persons access to food and other relief materials meant for them because these heartless officials would rather divert those donations to their personal use. There have been reports of camp officials repackaging foodstuff, especially grains, and moving them out of the camp under the cover of night to sell.

5. Male officials sexually abuse female camp inmates

Cases of officials sexually abusing and molesting women and girls in the camps are rampant. These officials take advantage of the vulnerability of these displaced women and girls to rape and sexually abuse them. Most times these sexual predators prey on these vulnerable women and girls under the pretext of helping them overcome their dire deprivation with gifts. In many cases, they end up abandoning the women after impregnating them, thus leaving them in a far worse situation than they (men) met them.

6. Terrorists still haunt the displaced persons even to the camps

The terror group, Boko Haram, has on many occasions targeted the displaced persons’ camps for attacks by suicide bombers. These attacks usually result in a huge number of casualties among the displaced persons.

7. Grossly inadequate and poor infrastructural facilities

Infrastructural facilities such as health facilities, water supply, and educational facilities are not only grossly inadequate in the camps; they are also in poor conditions. Most children of school age in the camps cannot access schools to continue with their education.Inadequate and poor health facilities contribute in no small measure to the death of children from disease. So does the lack of access to a potable water supply.

Infrastructural facilities such as health facilities, water supply, and educational facilities are not only grossly inadequate in the camps; they are also in poor conditions. Most children of school age in the camps cannot access schools to continue with their education.Inadequate and poor health facilities contribute in no small measure to the death of children from disease. So does the lack of access to a potable water supply.