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.
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.