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Nigeria Humanitarian Fund and partners rebuild shelters destroyed by fire in the north-east

07 Jul 2021

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Amina Ahmadu and her family are rebuilding their lives after a devastating fire hit Madinatu and El-Miskin camps. © OCHA/Ademigbuji

Fire outbreaks have been increasingly occurring in camps for internally displaced people across north-east Nigeria, providing a double blow to residents and rendering homeless families that are already suffering. These camps are overflowing with current and new residents, as increasing armed attacks have driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. With support from the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund, humanitarian partners are helping to rapidly reconstruct the shelters that were destroyed. 

This past winter, fire razed shelters in Madinatu and El-Miskin camps for internally displaced people in Borno State in north-east Nigeria, the epicentre of the country’s humanitarian crisis. As a result, about 4,000 people became homeless, increasing the trauma of affected families that have already been dealing with conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

One of those people is Amina Amadu. She lost her makeshift shelter and all of her belongings four months ago when fire struck Madinatu camp, where she has been living for the past seven years. 

Like millions of other people in north-east Nigeria, Amina, her husband and their three children had to flee their home in Marte, an area on the western coast of Lake Chad that was overtaken by non-State armed groups. Amina was able to find shelter at Madinatu camp, and has been receiving essential services and support. 

Amina’s family are among the 8.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2021 in Nigeria. 

A view of Madinatu camp, where a fire left scores of families homeless. © OCHA/Ademigbuji

Assistance from an NGO and the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund 

The fire that broke out in Madinatu camp destroyed 100 shelters across Madinatu and also touched El-Miskin Centre, a neighbouring camp. The fire was suspected to have started from a makeshift cooking stove located too close to a shelter, a consequence of overcrowding in camps. 

Each shelter can house up to 10 family members, so the loss of 100 shelters meant that hundreds of people were rendered homeless in an instant. 

Salient Humanitarian Organization, a national non-governmental organization (NGO) that coordinates and manages services for Madinatu and El-Miskin camps and is funded by the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund, quickly took action to begin building new shelters for the families whose homes were destroyed. The organization also distributed kits with non-food items to the families. 

“We received items like pots, mats, mattress, plates, kitchen knife, buckets and bowls, soap and detergent,” Amina said. “When this incident occurred, you brought help to us.” 

Following the devastating fire, families in Madinatu and El-Miskin camps received assistance when it was needed most. © OCHA/Ademigbuji

According to Suleiman Sanda, a Programme Officer for the organization who works in the camps, “the Nigerian Humanitarian Fund came at the right time. The funding we received allowed us to quickly mobilize our team to begin building 100 new shelters for those who lost everything. Without the funds and with the rainy season, this would have been a nightmare for those affected.” 

The Nigeria Humanitarian Fund is a pooled fund managed by OCHA. It is a rapid and flexible funding mechanism supporting Nigerian NGOs, international NGOs and UN agencies to respond to the most pressing or critical emergencies. 

The Fund relies on contributions from donors, which amounted to US$32.9 million in 2020, an increase of 23.5 per cent from 2019. 

Learn more about the achievements and impact of the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund in its Annual Report for 2020.