As General Buhari’s term in office as Nigeria’s President reached 100 days last Saturday, new figures show a surge to over 2.1m people displaced in the country’s six north-eastern states by Islamist violence.
According to the Swiss-based International Organisation for Migration, a recent spike in attacks by Boko Haram insurgents has triggered the increase from its June 2015 report of 1.3m.
Maiduguri, capital of Borno, one of the beleaguered states, has borne the brunt of insurgent activity, but an improvement to the city’s security has allowed visitors in for the first time in about two years.
As revealed in this audio slideshow, its displacement camps host some of the Christians who have survived Boko Haram atrocities.
Open Doors, a charity campaigning against the persecution of Christians, estimates that Boko Haram has been responsible for the 12,500 dead and 500,000 displaced Christians in the years 2006-14.
Script from slideshow
For the best part of the last two years, Maiduguri, the state capital of Borno in Nigeria’s northeast, has been cut off from the outside world. But a break in the long-term insecurity has given outsiders an opportunity to visit.
Security in Maiduguri remains tight. Because of continued suicide attacks, people are afraid to move around the city. This main street, once bustling with traffic, was very quiet. It was the same in the side streets.
World Watch Monitor visited a camp for Christians displaced by the fighting. The government prefers that Christians live alongside Muslims in shared camps, but the leader of this camp told us Christians faced provocation and discrimination when they were integrated.
The circumstances for these Christians were far from ideal. Some converted to Islam to make their life easier, but it was felt that this was a price too high to pay, and so the Christians set up their own camp.
This breakdown of trust between different faith groups is a lingering consequence of the instability Boko Haram has brought to northern Nigeria.
Life in the camp is hard. Almost 2,000 Christians have found refuge here but they live in squalid conditions.
When it’s time to receive their daily rations, the people form long queues outside the camp’s kitchen. Until March, the camp received food from the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency, but this was suspended. The agency said they wanted Christians to move to the Muslim camps.
To fill the gap, churches and individual Christians have given food, although this will be hard to sustain. Some people in the camp have been working on local farms in exchange for food.
Children – playful and happy on the surface – are hit hardest, and this crisis will leave its mark on them.
It is not clear what will become of one little boy, who lost both parents to the violence. But he’s not alone – there are many like him. We saw other groups of children who have also lost both parents.
Christians in Maiduguri have had every reason to feel hopeless in the last two years, but this new church, built on the grounds of one destroyed during the conflict, is an encouraging sign of change in what was once unassailable Boko Haram-held territory.