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Hunger is killing us, say wives of surrendered insurgents

26 February 2024
Reading time: 3 minutes

Security operatives are brought in to prevent starving women from returning to the bushes to live with insurgents

“Hunger is killing us one by one and we are tired of seeing our children dying of starvation.”

This was the loud and clear message of more than 100 wives of surrendered insurgents who held a protest on Thursday, February 22, outside the New Arrivals camp in the Dikwa Local Government Area of Borno State.

They said they intended to return to their former lives in the bush because they did not have food and their children were starving to death.

They told RNI reporter Rawa Bukar Tela they were protesting against the ever-increasing cost of living.

They said that, although life was hard living in the forest with insurgents, at least they had food and were able to feed their children.

Soldiers and civilian joint task force members were deployed to prevent the women from returning to the bushes and their old way of life.

Tela said the women had been living with their husbands in the New Arrivals camp in Dikwa since they had been released from the Hajj camp in Maiduguri, the largest deradicalisation facility in Borno State.

They told Tela that many wives of surrendered and repentant insurgents had left the camp in the past few months but that this was the largest number of women at one time who wanted to go back to their old lives.

“The women say it is easy to leave. All they have to do is pretend they are going to fetch firewood or farm.

“Once they are close to the bushes, they sneak further and further into the forest and join the insurgents again. The women disappear and are not seen again,” said Tela.

“They say the high cost of living is the main reason they want to return to their old way of life.”

One of the protesters, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “We are living in poverty. Every day we have to scrounge to find food for our children who are getting sick and dying in front of us. We cannot go on like this. Most of us want to return to the bushes to live with the insurgents because we cannot feed our children here. Every day we see our children starve, get ill and die.”

Tela said the protesting women had chanted: “Hunger is killing us one by one and we are tired of seeing our children dying of starvation.”

Soldiers and CJTF members prevented the protesting women from returning to the bushes and local authorities in Dikwa convinced them to return to the camp, promising urgent intervention.

Relative calm has been restored and security has been tightened within and around the town and camp, Tela said.

RNI reported on January 10 that desperate women and children in Dikwa had resorted to digging up anthills in search for food.

The women told RNI at the time that they were starving and could not afford to buy food for their families.

“The high cost of living is killing us. Our children are getting ill and are dying before our eyes. We are all going to die of starvation,” the women said.



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