3,200 Nigerians Flee To Chad By Boat To Escape Insurgency

Sixty five year -year-old Amadou Harouna, has just had his life shattered and his future thrown into uncertainty. He has been uprooted from the land he has always known as home, a victim of Boko Haram insurgency in North east Nigeria.

In January, the peace of the community in which he lived, Baga Dorom, in Borno State was shattered when Boko Haram insurgents stormed the town killing people and burning houses.

Harouna fled with the town and found himself joining others on a tortuous 10 – hour boat ride across Lake Chad to Baga Sola, a small fishing village in Chad, Nigeria’s neighbour to the North east.

In Baga Sola, Harouna found some solace in a camp set up by the World Food Programme, WFP, which has been supporting refugees fleeing escalating violence in North east Nigeria. He is in the camp with two of his children but he does not know what has happened to his wife, Zaina, and his two other children, 6 – year old Hassia and Jiddah, aged 9.

“I don’t even know if they are alive,” he answered when asked about their whereabouts.

Harouna is not alone in his misery. He is only one of 3,200 refugees receiving care from the WFP after escaping the horrors of invasion by insurgents in North East Nigeria. His companions are mostly women and children- many are members of families that have been torn apart by the ravages of savage attacks by the terrorists.

Most of the refugees left family members behind in their bid to escape the carnage; they have no news of their loved ones either. Their experiences have left their bodies weak with malnutrition, their minds traumatized with pain and shock, and their faces etched with fatigue.

After being register and settling them down for a while, the refugees then commenced another journey, this time by truck to the Dar Es Salaam refugee site, about 15 km from Baga Sola.

Before departing, the refugees gathered for food distribution under the scorching sun. After the aid workers from the WFP gave high-energy biscuits to the refugees, Anas- Harouna’s young son managed a weak smile. For the aid workers, this is a positive development as they say boy’s smile was his first since he stepped off the boat with his father.

Another refugee, Hagira, was in need of urgent medical attention. A victim of the violence too, she had lost an arm while fleeing for her life. The aid workers took her to a nearby hospital for treatment.






     

     

    For the refugees, feeding is a big deal as their ravaged bodies need all the nutrition they can get. Food is rationed out and long queues are a common sight.

    According to the aid workers on the sites, it is rare to see a whole family amidst the newly arrived refugees and those with intact families acknowledge it as a blessing.

    The WFP has reported that between the 4th of January and the 13th of February, up to 3,200 refugees have arrived at Baga Sola, from Nigeria, all suddenly estranged from their homes

    With the escalating spate of violent attacks in the region, the WFP aid workers are primed for any eventualities regarding the influx of refugees to the site in Baga Sola and other places, always hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

     

     

     

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