Boko Haram attacks render 800, 000 people homeless in two months
A spike in violence by Boko Haram militants in northeast Nigeria has forced almost 800,000 people to flee their homes since June, and stretched humanitarian efforts to breaking point, aid agencies said on Friday.
More than 2.1 million people – or 300,000 households – have been uprooted in northern Nigeria since Boko Haram launched an uprising in 2009, according to data from the International Organization for Migration.
Boko Haram has killed thousands of people in a six-year-old insurgency to create an Islamic State in the northeast of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.
The insurgents scattered earlier this year after an army counter-offensive, but have since returned to a strategy of selective attacks in which they have bombed or fired on targets in public places such as markets and places of worship.
The Islamist militants have launched cross-border attacks, triggering displacement and hunger in neighbouring Chad and Niger.
“This is a massive regional humanitarian crisis, with some of the highest human cost in the world,” Red Cross spokeswoman Aurélie Lachant told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Civilians continue to be victims of the conflict… aid is still not reaching hundreds of thousands of people.”
Around nine in 10 internally displaced people in Nigeria are living with host families – with the rest residing in refugee camps – and many are yet to receive food, water, shelter and healthcare, aid agencies say.
The number of people seeking refuge in local communities has put strain on those hosting the displaced, according to medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
“Aid agencies are stretched beyond their limits and host families are living beyond their means… they are exhausted and running out of resources,” MSF’s head of mission in Nigeria, Ghada Hatim, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The MSF’s ambulance service was running non-stop to deal with the surge in people fleeing their homes, which has pushed its health facilities to full capacity, Hatim said.
An outbreak of cholera was feared due to the rainy season, which runs until the end of September, while some shelters in refugees camps had been flooded, she added.