Live Stream
Radio Ndarason Internationale


Life for resettled displaced persons still a challenge

2 February 2024
Reading time: 5 minutes

Resettled displaced persons are grateful to be back in their ancestral homes even though they struggle because they lack food and water – and insurgents still make it difficult to farm.

Most internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Borno State who have been resettled in their ancestral homes are still struggling to make a new life for themselves.

Governor Babagana Umara Zulum decided displaced people should return to their ancestral hometowns at the end of 2021 when he shut down all the official IDP camps in Maiduguri, the state’s capital.
Since then, many IDPs have returned home, although some chose to remain in Maiduguri where they rent homes or live in host communities, and others are still living in unofficial camps in the capital or in local government areas and have yet to be resettled.

Zulum said at the time that the rationale for his decision to shut down the camps and resettle the IDPs was informed by the improvement in the security situation in the state.
He said IDPs needed to return to their ancestral homes to start a new life. Relative peace meant they would be able to live without the fear of imminent attacks by insurgents.

But most of the resettled IDPs said life in their ancestral homes was not ideal and there were still a number of challenges they faced.

Modu Fantami, who returned to Damasak, the headquarters of the Mobbar Local Government Area, told RNI that resettled IDPs still did not have enough to eat.
“We are suffering from famine despite interventions by some non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which provide humanitarian aid. If it weren’t for them, life would be even harder.

“As far as insecurity goes, we have not had any dangerous encounters with insurgents since we were resettled.
“Our leaders have built healthcare facilities and a general hospital. There are also good primary and secondary schools for our children and wards.
“But we cannot afford to farm and that is a major concern. It is one of the reasons we do not have enough to eat. Fertilisers are extremely expensive. One litre costs ₦1,200. You can imagine how much fertiliser we need for our farmlands. Unfortunately, it means we cannot farm, even though we need the food.”

Those who were resettled in the Bama Local Government Area were also experiencing challenges.

Hafsat Bukar said: “All we can say is Alhamdulillah [thank God] because we never expected we would be able to return home so soon.

“As a mother, I am relieved that now, because we are living in peace, we can allow our girls to marry men in Bama. And those who married in Maiduguri can now return to Bama with their husbands.
“We didn’t expect to be able to return home so soon. Now we can continue our business as we did before.

“There are organisations that are taking care of the health sector here, so we no longer lack medical amenities.

“But we are still too scared to farm. Our farmlands are mostly on the outskirts of the town. Attacks by insurgents still occur. Some of those who resettled and tried to farm again were killed. Others were abducted. The insurgents live in the bushes close to our farmlands.

“Often when it is time to harvest, insurgents get to our farmlands first and steal the produce. We cannot do anything about it. There is no one who can stop them so we just have to put up with it.”

Bukar Ali told RNI that most IDPs were grateful to be back home even though life was not perfect.

“We thank God for life and wellbeing. Many resettled inhabitants sell goods at the market in Baga town. Fishermen also do quite well, although now it is too cold and we cannot catch fish in this weather.

“Many of our people relocated to Niger because they still felt too insecure on their farmlands. They said they did not feel safe and their families were hungry because they were not able to farm. They left and have not returned.”

The Borno State government built houses for resettled IDPs in Logmani town in the Ngala Local Government Area. Most of the IDPs from that area were resettled in January last year.

Bunu Adam said: “We have nothing to fear here. Even before we were resettled, we used to return to Logmani to collect firewood. Even though the government built a new school and hospital and drilled a borehole, they have not been commissioned yet. So we are still waiting.

“Our major problem right now is the lack of water. We have to queue for hours. Each of us leaves our bucket in line while we shelter from the sun. But sometimes it takes until 4pm before we get to the front of the queue. Sometimes we are not able to get water. This is our major challenge.”


About the author