Read caption An aerial view of the town of Monguno in Borno state, north-east Nigeria. Photo: Michelle Delaney/NRC

Afraid to return

Michelle Delaney|Published 11. Oct 2017
Displaced families in Nigeria’s war-torn north-east are still too scared to return home.

Ya Hawa sits in the soothing shade of her tent, shielded from the sweltering 40C sun outside. She has been living in Monguno village in north-east Nigeria since Boko Haram attacked her village in 2015.

“They set all the houses ablaze. They killed members of my family,” she remembers. She fled the same day with her six children.

Eight years of armed conflict has left some 1.8 million people homeless in Nigeria’s north-east. The region is suffering a triple crisis – hunger, cholera and conflict. While the country has managed to avert famine for now, some 5.2 million people still do not have enough to eat. Close to half a million children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

Ya Hawa (middle) sits with her husband and son in the shade of her tent, shielded from the midday sun. She has been living in Monguno village in northeast Nigeria since Boko Haram attacked her village in 2015.

She fled her home town with her six children. “They set all the houses ablaze. They killed members of my family,” she remembers.

“I’ve been living in this camp for two years,” she says. “I want to go back home as soon as I can but only when Boko Haram are gone. Then I’ll feel safe. Here in the camp there is an informal teaching centre where my children can go to school.”

Today, she shares her tent with her husband and children. It’s small in comparison to what they had before the war. But it feels safe.

She recalls the life she had before the conflict broke out; “I come from a big farming family. We reared animals. Our village had 3,000 cows. But Boko Haram stole them all. What have we now?”

Eight years of armed conflict has left some 1.8 million people in Nigeria’s northeast. The region is suffering a triple crisis – hunger, cholera and conflict. While the country has managed to avert famine for now, 5.2 million people still do not have enough to eat. Close to half a million children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

The Norwegian Refugee Council is working in Monguno town where Ya Hawa now lives. We are providing shelter, water and sanitation to families in need.

In a new report launched by NRC called ‘Too Scared to Return ’, we found that 86 per cent of displaced people are not ready to go home. Insecurity is the main reason people want to stay put. 

Date: 4 October 2017
Credit: Norwegian Refugee Council / Michelle Delaney
Read caption Ya Hawa (centre) sits with her husband and son in the shade of her tent, shielded from the midday sun. She fled two years ago with her family, but refuses to go back until it's safe. Photo: Michelle Delaney/NRC

 
A temporary life in camp

Ya Hawa has been living in this camp for two years. “I want to go back home as soon as I can, but only when Boko Haram are gone,” she says. “Then I’ll feel safe.”

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) just launched a large-scale new report called Not Ready to Return, which found that 86 per cent of displaced people in north-east Nigeria are not ready to return home. Insecurity is the main reason people want to stay put.

Today, Ya Haw shares her tent with her husband and children. It’s small in comparison to what they had before the war. But it feels secure.

She recalls the life she had before the conflict broke out: “I come from a big farming family. We reared animals. Our village had 3,000 cows. But Boko Haram stole them all. What have we now?”

NRC is working in Monguno town where Ya Hawa now lives. We are providing shelter, water and sanitation to families in need.

I want to go back home as soon as I can, but only when Boko Haram are gone. Then I’ll feel safe.