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Internally displaced people in Nigeria
Image: DW/Uwaisu Idris

Boko Haram displaces more than a million

Uwaisu Abubakar/im
December 17, 2014

The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Nigeria has hit the 1.5 million mark due to the ongoing insurgency by Boko Haram Islamists, the UN agency for refugees (UNHCR) has said.


In Nasarawa state, there are more than ten camps for IDPs and the situation deteriorates with every passing day. UNHCR has called for a quick solution to avert disaster.

DW correspondent in Nigeria, Uwaisu Abubakar Idris, visited Shabu refugee camp where the government, has distributed some relief aid to the displaced persons. This was the first intervention of this kind by the government since it set up the camp in July 2014.

Relief items included rice, soap, blankets and cooking oil. But some of the inmates at the camp are not wholly satisfied with government's response.

"We appreciate what the federal government has done, but what we want now is peace," said Ashege Daniel, one of the diplaced.

He also said he wanted to lead an independent life again.

"If I would stay in my house without somebody feeding me that is what I want, nobody should disturb me and I shouldn't disturb someone."

Amos Tanko is another inmate at the camp who fled an attack by the Boko Haram in Gwoza village. He is desperate because of the inadequate facilities at the camp his new found home.

"We are here now and homeless. They burnt our houses, killed our brothers and parents nobody is left in our villages," he said.

"The majority of us sleep under trees because we don't have other means of shelter," said Tanko.

Relief aid delivered to IDPs
IDP's received an assortment of relief aid from the federal government that included matresses and cooking oilImage: DW/Uwaisu Idris

'Conflicting figures'

Nigeria's Emergency Agency says so far it has registered more than 800,000 internally displaced persons - but the UNHCR office in the country has put the figure as high as 1.5 million, based on numbers supplied by other aid agencies.

Angele Dikongue Atangana, the UNHCR representative in Nigeria, says the situation in the IDP camps should be tackled with the urgency it deserves to avoid health problems.

"The implications could be far reaching because some of these people sleep in the open which could lead to ailments especially for the women and children," she said.

Hadiza Sani Kangiwa, the federal commissioner at the Nigerian Commission for Refugees and IDPs, hinted on the prospects of introducing income generating projects for the displaced people.

A female government official speaking to the public.
Government officials have pledged more support for the IDPsImage: DW/Uwaisu Idris

"We hope in the nearest future to come and see within the limit of our funds how we could provide decent accommodation especially for the most vulnerable families," said Kangiwa.

"We also hope to provide funds so that these people can have income generating activities so they can stand on their feet rather than remain in the camp and depend on the goodwill of others."

Boko Haram has been waging a five-year uprising to create a hard-line Islamic state and captured much of northern Adamawa in an advance in October 2014. The military says many towns have now been retaken, including the commercial hub of Mubi, 197 kilometers (123 miles) by road northeast of the state capital.

But the security situation remains precarious and no IDPs said they were ready to return home.

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