Ya Hindi’s troubles started eight years ago when she, alongside her family, was dislocated from Kodo in Borno state when the Boko Haram insurgency first broke out. Like many women, her husband went missing as they attempted to flee their village for the capital city, Maiduguri.
His whereabouts since then have been unknown, but according to her, the grapevine has it he is detained in Giwa Barracks, a military detention facility in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria. He is likely one of the thousands detained during mass arrests by the military as they fled their troubled villages in search of safety.
Ya Hindi spent the past eight years in a camp for internally displaced persons in Maiduguri. Last year, despite warnings of a possible humanitarian disaster if resettlements were done, the state government went ahead to close down all official camps in Maiduguri, including the one where Ya Hindi was, and resettled residents in villages and towns like Nguru Soye and Bama.
There have been many complaints since then from those who were resettled, especially about a lack of access to water and toilets. IDPs have also expressed concerns over the insecurity in the areas they have been resettled to by the government.
“The government said we should start staying here until normalcy returns. Now, I have stayed here for eight months but the situation is only deteriorating,” Ya Hindi said.
“I have five children. We feed ourselves through the sale of firewood or other labour,” she lamented.
Ya Hindi said when they arrived, the Soye rainy season had started. She bought eight bottles of pesticide with the intention of planting beans. While coming back from the farm, Boko Haram members seized the bottles from her.
“We had to struggle to do the farming properly. We got three bags of beans. That’s how we feed our families,” she added.
Yaya Inna, 68, from Andara, a village 152 km away from Maiduguri, said recently a woman was beaten by men of the Nigerian Army after raising an alarm that Boko Haram members had invaded the camp and made away with livestock belonging to the residents.
“One day, we heard a woman shout,” she said. “We were scared to check in that night because we are women. In the morning, we asked her what happened. She said it was members of Boko Haram that came in and took five livestock away.”
Ya Inna says when the soldiers came, they accused the woman of lying and then beat her up.
“They said they didn’t see the members of Boko Haram. They told her she was lying and asked her: Do you have more eyes than ours that we didn’t see the Boko Haram members?”
Out of fear and the trauma of the experience, the woman packed her things and moved out of the town, heading to Cameroon, her neighbours told HumAngle.
There have been fears that forceful resettlement may put the lives of the IDPs in danger as the safety of some areas is still contentious.
Another woman said that recently, a visitor came from Banki to see his relatives inside the camp. As he lay down to sleep, armed men entered and shot him.
“We are certain that it was Boko Haram members. The security we have is not much,”
Falmata Muhammad, another woman from Soye, said.
Ya Hindi says if she could, she would find some money to transport her to Banki.
“Even if they say there’s no place to stay there, we will go and clear a place there. Because this place is not secured. Taking care of oneself is difficult.”
She further complained that her children have been out of school. There in Banki, she says, they don’t have school but they crowdfund to pay teachers. And everything went smoothly. But now, they have forgotten all they once knew. Before, her children used to be able to read and write but now, they just sleep.
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