Photo credit: IOM/Monica Chiriac
“Back in 2016, during one quiet afternoon, a bomb fell on our mosque during a funeral. Around 40 people died and 36 were hurt that day. I was about 50 metres away from where it happened. We were devastated, but we kept calm and we stayed. To this day, I can’t begin to understand what happened.
Five months later, Boko Haram attacked the military base next to us. Together with my wife and four children, we left our village and went to Bosso. Plenty others followed, by car or on foot. Once they started attacking Bosso, we left for a little village near Diffa. Once they attacked that one as well, we went by foot to another village near Bosso. More than 50 people died on the way there. Once there, we were told that Bosso had been attacked so we needed to move, either to Diffa or Nguigmi.
Once we arrived on this site for internally displaced people in Diffa, IOM gave us non-food item kits and emergency shelter. We decided that we needed a committee to manage the aid received from all of the different NGOs. It has now been a more than a year since I was selected by the local population as the secretary general for the site’s management.
The site has changed a lot since we first arrived. At first, there were 1,400 families living here and now we are more than 2,500. It’s a growing organism. We have received a lot of help in terms of training and education, but a lot of people still don’t have the means to feed their families.
It has been a big challenge for people to find jobs since there aren’t enough work opportunities for everyone. We have schools and mosques, but we need jobs and land for this to last. Some people look for wood to sell while others find small jobs in town. Food and medicine is a priority for the community. I used to be farmer, but I can’t find any land to work here. I was sleeping when you arrived [to talk to me] and this is what I will go back to doing when you leave.
It can be frustrating at times, but I am not stepping foot out of this site until the security situation improves back home. I have seen with my own eyes what Boko Haram is capable of. It’s not easy to fix what they have destroyed.”
The assistance provided by IOM in Diffa is financed by the U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of the Austrian Development Cooperation.