ABUJA, Nigeria – For more than five years, Nigerians whose communities in northeastern Nigeria was attacked by the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, have been arriving in Abuja for refugee.
They come with all they have, usually a few clothes and their relatives who were not killed by the armed jihadists. Boko Haram has forced more than 2.5 million people to run away from their homes.
In Abuja, displaced people say they are neglected. Though they are in the nation’s capital, there is little presence of the government in dozens of refugee camps in the city. In one camp located in Durumi Area 1, more than 2,000 people live. Their presence in Abuja is somewhat hidden. The camps are tucked away in bushes. Many Abuja residents do not know that thousands of refugees are living in the nation’s capital. Refugees from the camp in Durumu Area 1 talk to The Abuja Times about their plight, in hopes of spreading awareness so that more Abuja residents know that there are refugees in the city Adamu
Shettima, 31 years old
Only God knows why this Boko Haram thing happened and when it will end. We are suffering. My wife, by force by fire, she spent how many days in the bush when Boko Haram attacked our village in Borno State. She dey get bele, and she delivered in the bush. But the baby died. She is here with me now in this IDP came. I am a mechanic. But it is not bringing any many. I have been in Abuja for three years and things are not getting better for us in this IDP camp. Living in Abuja is not easy. It is not a city for poor people like us. I am experiencing many stress in this Abuja. I am thinking of going back to my place in Gwoza, Borno and try to find work and live my life. But I don’t have money now. But if I get 5,000 naira, I will go back to Gwoza. I have 30 brothers and sisters and I don’t know where any of them are. Some have been killed by Boko Haram. President Buhari has tried because the bomb blasts and the way Boko Haram used to be killing anyhow, those things have reduced. But I am not thinking about Buhari now. I am thinking about how to reduce my suffering.
Lami Paul, 18 years old
I saw many and many Boko Haram members come to attack them. They come in big groups. I ran to the bush and I stayed there in the bush for six days. It was just too bad. I was eating seeds and some leaves. I fled and went to Abuja. All I want now is the chance to go to school. I only went to primary school. But no one in the government is coming to help us here for this Abuja. I am helping my aunty to wash dishes in one small canteen here in the IDP camp. But I want to go to school. I want to know how to read. I want to learn how to write. Also, I want a sewing machine because back home I was doing tailoring. But my sewing machine is gone. The Boko Haram burned down my family’s house. I don’t want to go back to Borno. I want to remain here in Abuja, or anywhere but I just cannot go back to where there is Boko Haram.
Liyatu Ayuba, 46 years old
Abuja is not for a poor person at all, at all, at all. If I get a village outside to stay, I will go and do farming. Everything costs in Abuja and no body can help you. My last born did not go to school because of the school fees. I have been going to the hospital now and they said I get sugar, too much sugar. And every time I am begging for money to go to the hospital, just here in Durumi at the police clinic so they will check my sugar. I have been in Abuja for up to five years now. The situation we are in, in this IDP camp in Abuja is not good. It is not safe. The government even come to this place like three months ago and told us we have to go back to Borno. They said they don’t want IPDs in Abuja. But Boko Haram is still in that place. Nothing concern government in this camp. It is only Christian and some Muslim groups who are helping us with small, small things. They give us some food stuff, medicines, they teach our children. The people of Abuja need to know that there are people here who were displaced by this Boko Haram. The people of Abuja need to just exercise patience. We want to go back to our homes, but we don’t want to be killed.