News / Africa

    Masses Fleeing Boko Haram Broil in Sun in Niger Camp

    • Children run after VOA's car in Assaga camp, Niger, March 3, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA)
    • Children clean chalkboards in a classroom at the Ngourtoua camp, Diffa, Niger, March 1, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA)
    • Clothes are hung out to dry at the Assaga camp, Diffa, Niger, Feb. 29, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA)
    • El Hadj Tahirou, the Nigerian tailor of the Assaga camp, in Diffa, Niger, Feb. 29, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA)
    • Men, whose faces are swept by wind and sand, pray at the Assaga camp in Diffa, Niger, March 3, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA)
    • Women and children get water from a well at the Assaga camp, in Diffa, Niger, March 3, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA)
    • A child plays at the  Assaga camp, Niger, March 3, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA)
    • Thanks to supplies provided by UNICEF, school children at the Ngourtoua camp listen to their teacher, in Diffa, March 1, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA)
    • Oumara Gobo, village chief of Assaga-Niger, watches over 100 families in this camp for displaced persons near Diffa, Niger, Feb. 28, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA)
    • A humanitarian worker places straw on the roof of a hut at the Assaga camp, Diffa, Feb. 29, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA)
    • Refugees from Assaga-Nigeria show off red peppers they produced, Feb. 28, 2016. Business had been forbidden for months as authorities feared it financed Boko Haram militants. (N. Pinault/VOA)
    • Nigerian refugees living at the Assaga camp, near Diffa, Feb. 28, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA)
    • A 10-year-old school girl writes on the chalkboard in a temporary classroom at Ngourtoua camp, near Diffa, Niger, March 1, 2016. (N. Pinault/VOA)
    A Look Inside a Refugee Camp in Diffa, Niger
    Nicolas Pinault

    Hundreds of thousands of people forced from their homes are now living in the Diffa region of eastern Niger. Makeshift camps are everywhere on each side of the RN1, the country's main highway.  The asphalt is boiling hot.  

    Here, refugees from Nigeria live next to displaced people from Niger.  They are two nationalities but have one common fear: Boko Haram.

    Mataram Kodogo, a Nigerian, fled her village with her eight children for the relative safety of the Ngourtoua camp.

    “It was 2:30 a.m.; it was a Thursday. Boko Haram arrived in our village, shooting, killing people," she said. "It was every man for himself. People were fleeing undressed, without shoes. I put my baby on my back, took another child under my arm, and I dragged another.”

    Others in the camps tell similarly horrible stories. Even with the Niger army on patrol, displaced people and refugees are scared. Daily life is not easy.

    Hunger problem

    The food situation is at best precarious. Last year, the United Nations estimated that the region's harvest would not meet local needs, falling short by 100,000 tons of cereals.

    The U.N. refugee agency has said efforts to help the displaced are complicated because they are spread out for 30 kilometers along RN1 instead of being in a proper camp. Aid officials aren't even sure how many people they are dealing with.

    "We know that many people have no IDs," said Karl Steinacker, the U.N. agency's representative in Niger. "It is extremely difficult to say where they are from. But, as of right now, we have more displaced people than Nigerian refugees."

    He estimated the Diffa region's total population at 700,000, including 100,000 Nigerian refugees. "And at least half of them are displaced or in need,” he told VOA.

    Many refugees or displaced people say they would return to their homes if security improved, but the chances of this seem remote. Boko Haram is still active along the Komadugu Yobe River, the natural border between Niger and Nigeria.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: jthebart
    March 04, 2016 8:30 PM
    A woman with her 8 children flees the village. Does no one else see the problem here? How long is this going to go on? I saw an interview with an African man who said he had to have 23 children to help him feed his 23 children.
    If you have too many kids you limit everyone's opportunities, and people with nothing else to do turn to armed violence as an alternative.
    In Response

    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    March 06, 2016 1:19 AM
    Overpopulation is a self limiting thing. When you can get no food or water you die.

    by: Jazz
    March 04, 2016 8:07 PM
    I'm truly upset that our simple humanitarian needs continue to be held out of reach. Wake up people, the systems we trust in are not, and have not planned to help us. We have to take back our scenes and stop giving up so much control. This upsets me to the core. That I am 36 and my generation hasn't been involved or prepared from our parents. Has all these years of generational oppression finally broke our spirits. We have to pull out of this selfish capitalism lifestyle. Its a killer.
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    March 05, 2016 10:04 PM
    Place no blame on Capitalism, brother. There is and never will be any justification for causing any kind of harm to another human being perpetrated by external influences. Governments all over our world have proven they care less about the human being, and more about their pathetic ideologies!

    by: Nelsonolebunne
    March 04, 2016 7:37 PM
    My words is when will this war against terror and shedding of blood of innocent citizens end.

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