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13-05-2015 | Africa

Lake Chad region: Over a million flee homes as crisis deepens

The armed conflict between Boko Haram and various armed forces is spreading from Nigeria into the surrounding countries of Niger, Cameroon and Chad. This is one of the worst humanitarian crises facing Africa now.  The violence has forced over a million people out of their homes, seeking shelter wherever they can find it.
32 year old Maryam Mohammed abandoned everything she owned when she grabbed her children and left her home town of Michika in north-eastern Nigeria nearly eight months ago.
“We have to leave the town because they are shooting and killing people,” Maryam explains.  Maryam waited until the fighters were asleep before daring to step outside and run. Taking paths through the bush instead of the road, she walked for four days with her children and her baby strapped on her back.
Maryam and her family are among the hundreds of thousands of people seeking safety in Yola, eastern Nigeria. The displaced population now outnumbers the town’s population of 200,000.  While the ICRC is providing food and other essential items, this sudden population explosion is stretching scarce water and food supplies as well as straining the sanitation and health system.
Maryam would like to return home: “There’s no place like your home. We want to go back to Michika but there is no house, no property, nothing.”
Further north, across the border in Niger, the hospital in Diffa is flooded with victims of the violence.  Ousman Oumarou was wounded during an attack at Lake Chad's Karamga island just across the border in Nigeria. “Fighters came and found us and started shooting. I was hit in the shoulder. The military brought me here where the Red Cross has treated me.”
In the chaos of the fighting, Oumarou has lost his family.  “I have no idea where my wives and children are but at least I feel better since coming to the hospital.”
Like Oumarou, many families have been split up by the conflict, fleeing in different directions and many children have become separated from their parents.  ICRC and Nigerian Red Cross staff have registered unaccompanied minors in internally displaced communities in Yola, Maiduguri, Jos and Kano and the number of children waiting to be reunited with their parents is growing. The ICRC and the Nigerian Red Cross is working hard to reunite families.
The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross is heading today  (Thursday 14 May) to the Lake Chad region to see first hand how people are being affected by the fighting.  For many months, the ICRC has been one of the few international humanitarian organisations on the ground in the region.  With the rainy season approaching, the ICRC is concerned about the outbreak of disease as sanitary conditions deteriorate.


Location: Various
Length: 4:06
Format: H264 Mov HD
Production: Various
Camera: Various
Sound: English/French
ICRC ref: AV291N Lake Chad Crisis
Date: Various

Copyright: ICRC access all 

Yola, Nigeria, 16-17 April 2015 

0:00 Various of displaced people

0:17 SOUNDBITE Maryam Mohammed (in English)
“We have to leave the town for them because they are shooting and killing people. We locked ourselves in the room.”

0:23 Various of Maryam preparing food for children

0:45 Maryam receiving ICRC products

1:21 SOUNDBITE Maryam Mohammed (in English)
There’s no place like your home. We want to go back to Michika but the town is really risky Question: everything has been destroyed? There is no house, no property. Nothing.”

Diffa, Niger 30 April – 5 May

1:35 People on streets
1:45 Various of surgery in Diffa Hospital
1:58 Weapon wounded man receiving treatment

2:20 SOUNDBITE Ousmane Oumarou, Nigerian refugee (in Hausa)
“One day the fighters came and found us on the island and shot at us. I was wounded by a bullet in the shoulder. The military brought me to Diffa where the ICRC and the hospital has treated me and I had an operation. Since the attack I don’t know where my wives and children are but at least I feel good since being treated here.”

2 :56 Oumarou with nurse
3 :10 Various of children playing with water
3:20 Displaced family
3:28 ICRC distribution
3:52 Displaced people receiving ICRC products
4:06 END

Duration : 4m 6s
Size : 288.2 MB
On Screen Credit: ICRC or logo

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