It has been 23 days since a raging and devastating fire swept through the Muna Garage El Badawe Camp in Maiduguri and the internally displaced persons who live there have still not received any assistance from the government and international aid agencies to help them to replace their tents and shelters.
In the early hours of Thursday, November 4, the fire – thought to have been caused by a kerosene stove – raged through the camp. Three people, including a two-and-a-half year old toddler, died; many were seriously burnt and injured and had to be hospitalised; and an estimated 800 tents and shelters were razed to the ground.
Mahmood Mafa, a victim of the fire, told RNI reporter Fatima Grema Modu that residents had resorted to fetching wood from the forest to build temporary shelters.
He said his shelter had been razed to the ground in the fire and all he was left with were scattered ashes.
“Attacks by insurgents forced us to leave our homes and come to Maiduguri. About 800 tents were destroyed in the fire and not one organisation – not even the government – has helped us to replace our shelters. We urgently need tents and building materials. The fire has left us with nothing but ashes. We have do not have enough food and most of us are starving.”
He and other residents of the camp had to walk for about 15km into the bush to fetch wood and thatch.
“It is not safe for us. There are still insurgents who are active in the forest. If we are caught, they could kill or abduct us. We usually go at about 7am and come back in the evening with empty bellies, carrying as much wood and thatch as we could find.”
Another resident, who would not give his name, said the government was failing them by not providing tents and shelters. “It is a matter of urgency. We are sleeping in the open. It’s cold and the women and children are really suffering.
Abba Mustapha Gawa, the chairman and camp coordinator, said the Norwegian Refugee Council, Action Against Hunger and the Grassroot Initiative for Strengthening Community Resilience (GISCOR) have provided mats, blankets, food and soap but no building materials.
“What we need more than anything else are tents and shelters for the residents. We are going into the harmattan season, which is characterised by cold, dry and dusty winds. The temperatures fluctuate during the day and night. It is very difficult for the women and children to cope,” he said.
After fetching enough wood and thatch, it took residents at least eight to nine days to make a temporary shelter, Gawa said.
He called on the government and non-governmental organisations to urgently come to the aid of the internally displaced persons because they were struggling to survive and desperately needed assistance.