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Nigeria Humanitarian Fund gives families a chance to return to normal

25 Apr 2019


Maryamu outside the house she can finally return to it. Credit: HARAF/Ishaya David

Maryamu Joshua is a 65-year-old woman from Michika town in Adamawa State of north-east Nigeria and has called it her home her entire life. As a single mother of four children and grandmother of eight grandchildren, she puts her family first and tries to provide a home for them, despite arduous challenges she faces due to the conflict that hit Michika in early September of 2014, when non-state armed groups seized and took over control of the area.

Maryamu, her family, and the people of Michika witnessed civilian casualties, destruction of property, and the loss of livelihoods during the insurgency. They survived bomb blasts that damaged and destroyed buildings and the town’s infrastructure.

As if her life was not hard enough, she had to go through the traumatic events of the insurgency as a single mother, since her husband had passed away years before the conflict. She had to make the tough decision to flee Michika, the only place she had ever called home, completely alone, with her family’s best interest in mind.

Clashes between non-state armed groups and the Nigerian military in Michika town continued to leave a trail of damage to buildings until it was recaptured by the Nigerian army in January 2015.

A member of the HARAF team repairing Maryamu's house. Credit: HARAF

Maryamu and her family were able to return to Michika, only to find that their four-room house, which the 14-member family relied on as their only shelter, had been damaged by explosives and was not fit to live in. With no source of incoming as a peasant farmer, Maryamu and her family struggled to repair their home, only managing to reconstruct two of the rooms for living, so they at least had a roof over their heads.

A sigh of relief came for her and her family through project carried out by the Hope and Rural Aid Foundation (HARAF), a humanitarian non-governmental organization supporting people affected by conflict and violence by helping them restore their livelihood. Funded by the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund, the project implemented by HARAF aimed to quickly repair the remaining two rooms, allowing the large family to return to a proper home.

"Before now, we had to find a way to stay in the room all together even though the roof was leaking. We had to use containers to collect the water when it was raining. This project really benefited us, as we were able to fix the leaking roof and can now stay in our home comfortably," Maryamu explained gratefully. Maryamu was one of 1,000 households that benefited from rehabilitation shelter kits in Michika and Madagali in Adamawa State – a project that has provided not only shelter, but liveable homes to families like Maryamu’s and given them a sense of hope that their lives can return to normal.

Now in its tenth year, the crisis in Nigeria continues to uproot the lives of thousands of children, women and men and is adding to the long history of marginalisation and chronic under-development. Up to 2.1 million people have been forced to fee their homes at the height of the conflict. 1.8 million of them are still internally displaced and close to 200,000 people have sought refuge in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The Plight of Internal Displacement

Tens of millions of people around the world have been driven out of their homes by war, hunger, earthquakes and other perils. Among the most vulnerable, are 40 million people who have been forced to flee, but never crossed a border. Lacking special protection in their darkest hour of need, these largely unnoticed women, men and children may have fled their homes with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. They often urgently need essential necessities such as shelter, food and clean water, while stripped of their rights and basic protections.

To draw the world’s attention to the Plight of World’s 40 Million Internally Displaced People, OCHA has launched an innovative YouTube campaign, ‘Unavailable Content’, in collaboration with Ogilvy. The campaign is at the heart of OCHA’s Invisible Citizens Week, which is dedicated to shining a spotlight on this resilient yet vulnerable group of people.

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