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Nigeria: “Most days we only eat once and have to go to sleep with empty stomachs”

05 Jan 2017

Médecins sans Frontières is providing food aid to families in Maiduguri who receive little or no support from other organisations. Many of these people live in the Muna area on the outskirts of the city, where there are eight informal camps with populations ranging from 500 to 6,000 people. Two of the settlements that now benefit from food distribution by Médecins sans Frontières are Muna Primary and Muna Gulumba. Distributing food in these camps started in November, with each family receiving 25kg of millet, 5kg of beans and 5L of palm oil – enough to last for two weeks – as well as eight bars of soap.  

Maira Modu's family

“We left our village in Bama one year ago because of an attack. We left at night, in such a rush that we took nothing with us apart from our children. Our life there was comfortable, we had everything that we wanted. At home we could farm, but here we do not have access to any land. We trekked on foot – it took four days to reach Maiduguri. We knew that armed men were patrolling the area so we hid every time we heard a motorbike or a car. It was really difficult for the children. Two of them fell sick and they have not yet recovered. They have fever, coughing and are stressed. But we are here now and managing with what we have. 

"It’s very difficult to sleep at night. Nine of us sleep in this shelter and there is not very much space. Some of us sleep outside."

Most days we only eat once and have to go to sleep with empty stomachs. We have only been given food twice by MSF; otherwise we rely on family members who live in Maiduguri. They give us food not because they have a lot, but because they have human feelings. It’s very difficult to sleep at night. Nine of us sleep in this shelter and there is not very much space. Some of us sleep outside. We would like a blanket, shelter, food and to go back to our community. We would like people to know about the hardship that we face. Life is difficult for us here. We don’t have water, food or detergent to wash our children’s clothes. At home they could go to school, they had a playground. We know that our home has burnt down, like most of the homes in our village. But we still want to go back when it is peaceful.”

Mallaam Haruna's family

“It was a Monday when our village in Gambaru, Ngala, was attacked. People came and started shooting everywhere. We woke to the sound of gunfire and fled. I could not find two of my children so we had to leave without them. We were so scared. We thought that the people with guns would attack us. We trekked for four days to get to Maiduguri. We didn’t think that we would make it here alive. When I met one of my children on the road, I was so happy. I thought I’d never see them again.

"Our main problem is food and how we will get it. Usually we eat once a day, but sometimes we give the food we have to the children and we go hungry."

We have been here now for two years. Our main problem is food and how we will get it. Usually we eat once a day, but sometimes we give the food we have to the children and we go hungry. We’ve only had one distribution of food since we arrived. It’s hard for us to stay healthy here. My grandson has been sick for the past two weeks. This is the fourth time that he’s been ill since we arrived. He has a fever and his temperature is rising. Sometimes he can’t eat. I have a cough and, once I start coughing, I can’t stop for a couple of minutes. It isn’t easy to sleep here. We get scared that the camp will be attacked and it gets very cold at night. If there is peace we would like to go home. We know that all our possessions have been taken from our house, but we hope that at least the building will still be there.”

 

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