Thursday, 3 December 2015

Displaced Nigerians Prepare To Leave Camps, Go Home, But Fear Violence

More than 100,000 people uprooted by violence and living in camps in northeast Nigeria are set to return home soon, but many fear for their safety and ability to rebuild their lives. According to Reuters, the Nigerian government plans to close in the coming months camps housing 150,000 displaced people in Borno and Adamawa states as security improves in the north, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The army has this year recaptured much of the territory seized by Boko Haram in its six-year campaign to carve out an Islamic state in the northeast, but the militants have since struck back with a surge of deadly raids and suicide bombings.
Most people living in camps want to return home but are worried about the threat of attacks and lack confidence in the military's ability to protect them, said St├ęphanie Daviot of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

"They also say that the economic situation is not stable enough to go back, as shops and services have not been reopened, there is little work and their land has not been preserved... many people do not have the money to restart their lives."

Many of those who have already gone home have found their houses and land destroyed or occupied by others, Daviot added.

"Those who return are not always welcomed back, some may be considered cowards by those who stayed and tensions can arise."

The humanitarian response has so far focused on providing short-term aid, but greater assistance must soon follow to help the displaced move home and rebuild their lives, OCHA said.

Boko Haram's insurgency has killed thousands of people and displaced 2.2 million - more than 90 percent of whom are living with host families in local communities rather than in camps.

"No one wants to live in a camp, it is a last resort for those with no other options," said Kasper Engborg, OCHA head of office in Nigeria. "For those in camps, going home is the most pressing issue... despite the lingering fear and uncertainty."

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