Saturday, January 21, 2012

NIGERIA: Boko Haram displaced fear returning home

19 January 2012

Displaced people from Damaturu city collect relief itemsKANO, 19 January 2012 (IRIN) - Many of the tens of thousands of civilians who have fled their homes following a string of deadly attacks by “terrorist group” Boko Haram in northern Nigeria over recent weeks have not yet been able to return home - or been offered any shelter by the authorities.

Local government authorities are wary of setting up camps for the displaced, says the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), as these could turn into further Boko Haram targets.

The number of displaced is unclear, say aid agency representatives in Nigeria, as Boko Haram attacks are continuing.

The largest estimated displacement was 90,000 people who were reported to have fled Damaturu city in Yobe State following deadly attacks in late December, said Ibrahim Farinloye, northeastern Nigeria coordinator for NEMA.

According to the Nigerian Red Cross, members of the Christian Igbo ethnic group - a minority in the mainly Muslim north - are fleeing the northeast in significant numbers.

Some 10,000 people are reported to have been displaced in the southern state of Benin on 9 January following what are believed to be retaliation attacks on mostly-Muslim Hausa residents, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Many displaced families told IRIN they were wary of returning home both because of further Boko Haram attacks, and because of what they say is heavy-handed military tactics used by soldiers patrolling their neighbourhoods.

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