Residents of Abbari, a community on the shores of Alau River in Konduga Local Government Area (LGA), Borno state, Northeast Nigeria, on Sunday Jan. 30, night, witnessed a fire disaster that destroyed 120 homes and essential items.
Officials of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) who confirmed the incident to HumAngle on Tuesday said the residents of Abbari were former IDPs who had last year returned to their community.
When HumAngle visited Abbari community, which is located 15km away from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, victims of the fire incident were seen making frantic efforts to rebuild their burnt houses while those who had no resources sat helplessly.
Most of the villagers who spoke to HumAngle had different tales of losses caused by the fire even as many lamented they may not be able to survive the impending hardship.
Fatima Bukar, a middle-aged mother said all her harvested food crops were destroyed in the inferno even as she “thank(ed) God for sparing the lives of the children” whom she said was fast asleep then.
“We do not understand what caused the fire, but it may not be unconnected with the harmattan wind blowing against the unquenched fires people make to keep them warm,” she said.
Mommodu Ari, a farmer, also said his house, made of thatch and muds was razed, rendering him and his two wives and 11 children homeless.
“We left Dalori IDP camp two years ago as government support for IDPs reduced, to fend for ourselves here at the river bank. We are from a hamlet near Yale village in Konduga local government, but we cannot return there because it is still not safe due to the presence of Boko Haram terrorists. Life had been good for us farming near the river and this year’s harvest was good. But sadly everything we stored in our barn has been burnt down,” he said.
Yabawa Kolo, Borno state Director General of SEMA, said the government had deployed food and material support to the community following a damage assessment.
“It was a sad development that happened at Abbari village but we are on top of the situation. Officials of the rapid assessment team visited on Monday to assess the damage and so far we got 103 houses that were completely burnt, including their food and household assets,” she said.
The DG SEMA said it was given the assessment report that SEMA sought the approval of the state governor to deploy food non-food relief items to the community.
“We have deployed 120 units each of items like rice, cooking oil, mats, wrappers and three other essential hygiene items, as well as N10,000 cash as an initial response to help them cushion the hardship,” she said.
Measure to Curb Recurrence
Fire incidences like the one at Abbari have in recent months become a major signature of disasters across Borno state.
Gubio, the Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, in an interview with HumAngle said the government has perfected plans to replace all houses in resettled communities and IDP camps with the one built with fire-resisting materials.
“While we give the victims of the fire incident temporary shelters, we would soon deploy our team of engineers to replace those burnt homes with affordable concrete buildings to reduce the incidence of fire outbreak,” he said.
At least about 12 different incidents of fire outbreaks have been recorded at IDP camps and some resettled communities since the commencement of the dry season in October last year.
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