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Nigeria's Boko Haram Victims Totally Dependent on External Aid

FILE - People stand near the damage following an attack on a mosque in the town of Gamboru in Borno state, Nigeria, Jan. 3, 2018.

The charity Doctors Without Borders says hundreds of thousands of people displaced in remote areas of Borno State in northeastern Nigeria by the Boko Haram insurgency are totally dependent on external aid for survival.

Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym, MSF, describes the living conditions of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people in Borno State as dire.

While the Nigerian military has largely suppressed the Boko Haram insurgency that began in 2009, the crisis continues. Francois Tillette de Mautort, the MSF emergency humanitarian affairs officer in Switzerland, says these people are trapped in different enclaves in remote, hard to reach areas — some for more than two years.

FILE - Huts and sheds are seen at the Gamboru/Ngala internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Borno, Nigeria
FILE - Huts and sheds are seen at the Gamboru/Ngala internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Borno, Nigeria

He tells VOA they have very little freedom of movement because of security reasons. He says they have little hope of returning home any time soon and are totally reliant on international aid, which makes them extremely vulnerable.

"So, they do not have access to lands to farm," he said. "They have very little access for their cattle to be able to graze outside of the IDP locations. This is part of the problems that we see. They are extremely reliant on assistance and on aid and they are very, very dependent, which also puts most of them in a very vulnerable situation."

The Boko Haram conflict has displaced 1.7 million people, most in Borno State.Another 200,000 Nigerians have taken refuge in neighboring states.

President of MSF Switzerland, Reveka Papadopoulou, has just returned from a three-week visit to Borno State. She tells VOA food, safe water, medicine and other basic needs of the displaced are not being met.

"Stepping up the assistance both by the external or the international assistance, but also from the Nigerian State," she said. "... In very few locations is there presence of the Nigerian administration. …The military is extremely present, but not the rest of the State services."

MSF officials say it is important that the crisis in Borno State is not forgotten, adding that people who have been so cruelly victimized by Boko Haram must not continue to be victimized by national and international neglect.