Millions of children have borne the brunt of the conflict in North East Nigeria. Violent attacks by Boko Haram, together with counter-insurgency measures, have been taking place since 2009 in the Lake Chad region and have intensified since 2013.
More than 1.5 million children have been forced from their homes
The bloodshed and violence has since spread across Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, directly affecting around 17 million people.
More than 2.4 million people have been forced from their homes, 1.5 million of whom are children.
Supporting children in Borno
Since November 2016, Plan International Nigeria has been working in Borno to support children who have been forced to flee their homes.
Boko Haram insurgents invaded Gwoza in Nigeria’s Borno state. Ahmed*, then 13, witnessed the horrific murder of his father by the invaders.
“I was at the market helping my father at his meat shop when Boko Haram fighters came to murder him. My mother, brother and sister ran in different directions during the commotion and since then, I haven’t had any news of their whereabouts.”
Ahmed’s case is one of many being managed by Plan International Nigeria. With the support of the Borno state Ministry of Women Affairs, we are working to locate Ahmed’s family members. We are hopeful that with the information provided by Ahmed it will not be long before we are able to reunite him with his family.
In search for safety
Ahmed, now 16, spent 3 months moving from one village to another to escape the marauding Boko Haram fighters. Most of the time he travelled alone and walked hundreds of kilometres in his search for safety.
“In one village, I was sheltered at a secondary school with other internally displaced people where Nigerian government officials used to provide us with daily food,” he says when asked to recall some of the places he has stayed.
Not long after, word spread that Boko Haram were advancing towards the village forcing Ahmed to flee to the town of Mubi where he was taken in by a man who felt sorry for his situation. A few months later, Mubi was attacked by the insurgents.
My greatest desire now is to be able to trace any of my relatives who may be alive.
“The day Mubi was taken by Boko Haram, I had gone out to purchase an item when gunshots penetrated the air. I rushed back home, but my guardian had fled with his family.”
Ahmed decided to join a group of people moving southwards out of the town in search of safety. This journey took him to Mujara, a border community between Nigeria and Cameroon. Ahmed had met his friend Salisu who had invited him to come and live with him at his home. He has been there ever since.
“I was accepted by my friend’s parents. They have been good to me but I really wish to know the fate of my mother and 2 siblings,” he says looking into the distance forlornly. “My greatest desire now is to be able to trace any of my relatives who may be alive. I know many of them were killed but I would be overjoyed to be reunited with my family.”
*Name has been changed to protect identity