For Refugees In Nigeria, The Cycle Of Displacement Continues


In recent weeks, the Borno State government has declared the northeast corner of Nigeria to be safe from the terrorist organization Boko Haram. Those who left the area are eager to return home. But even as some refugees return home, others are moving into their vacated spots within the refugee camps. Neither group, however, has any guarantee of safety from the Boko Haram. Indeed, despite the presence of the Nigerian military, the town of Magumeri was raided by the group just this past Wednesday, forcing townspeople to evacuate as the militants looted shops and set fire to homes. The Borno State government has repeatedly claimed to have the militants under control and on the run, but attacks such as the one in Magumeri nevertheless continue. On the same Wednesday as the Magumeri attack, another northeastern city, Maiduguri, saw its own attack as

On the same Wednesday as the Magumeri attack, another northeastern city, Maiduguri, saw its own attack as four suicide bombers, all teenage girls, struck a residential home, killing themselves and two men while wounding sixteen others. While the attack on a random residential home is new, the use of young female suicide bombers is not, as over 200 such girls have already been claimed by the conflict. Outside help has been pouring into the country, but these supply convoys themselves are subject to attack

Outside help has been pouring into the country, but these supply convoys themselves are subject to attack from the Boko Haram and humanitarians have accused the Nigerian military of limiting supply drops into the refugee camps out of fear. Indeed, in their quest to deny foodstuffs supplies to the Boko Haram, the Nigerian military have inadvertently provided another motivation for the terrorist group: desperation. The governor of Cameroon stated, “They need food.  They need to eat…They’re stealing everything.”  While the Boko Haram may not be advertising their need of supplies, the organization nonetheless has been quick to refute any claims made by the government or military, that its “ferocious attacks are a thing of the past,” and that the Nigerian army is “only picking up the

While the Boko Haram may not be advertising their need of supplies, the organization nonetheless has been quick to refute any claims made by the government or military, that its “ferocious attacks are a thing of the past,” and that the Nigerian army is “only picking up the pieces.”  In a video released by the Boko Haram, the organization’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, states that the group is “safe” and they “have not been flushed out of anywhere.” He continues to say that ” tactics and strategies cannot reveal our location expect if Allah wills by his decree.” For refugees, sometimes the solution is as much of a problem as what the situation it attempts to solve. Held captive to a cycle of safety and danger, displaced peoples are as much at the mercy of those offering sanctuary as they are to those perpetrating the attacks. The

For refugees, sometimes the solution is as much of a problem as what the situation it attempts to solve. Held captive to a cycle of safety and danger, displaced peoples are as much at the mercy of those offering sanctuary as they are to those perpetrating the attacks. The Nigerian military has stated, with the exception of small areas, the country is safe enough for people to return home. Whether this claim is true or not is up for debate, but for the refugees, life will never be the same. Such continues the situation in Nigeria, a country which has been under attack by the militant Islamist organization Boko Haram for the past eight years.

The end goal for the Boko Haram is the creation of an Islamic state in an area that claims the highest population in Africa. In addition to the displacement of millions of people throughout the country, the conflict has also claimed the lives of 20,000. For those seeking safety in the refugee camps, time is running out; the government plans to close the camps at the end of May this year. Having claimed victory over the militants, it is clear that the government expects the refugees to return home, but given the recent attacks, it is unlikely that the Boko Haram will leave the country in peace any time soon. For those displaced by the terrorist organization, their options are few and will likely force the refugees to continue to live within a cycle of instability and fear.

S.M. Ellison
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