Nigeria forcibly resettles refugees to allow schools to open

By Editorial Board - 26 February 2016 at 2:39 pm


MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s government is forcibly resettling hundreds of people who lost their homes to Boko Haram’s carnage, some to a refugee camp where the extremists recently killed dozens, even though U.N. officers urged officials to consider the security fears of already traumatized people.

Some people wailed that they were being sent to their deaths.

“They attacked and forced us … even humiliating us,” Ilya Ibrahim, a 39-year-old father of three, said of the military.

Camp managers ordered people onto trucks as armed soldiers stood by Monday in northeastern Maiduguri, birthplace of Boko Haram and a city of 1 million overrun by more than 1 million refugees.

Security forces deployed after attempts to move the refugees last week failed. Some refugees were manhandled and camp managers locked gates to prevent the departure of refugees who wanted to find other accommodation in the city.

On Wednesday, the military said it repulsed an attack on Dikwa refugee camp, where suicide bombers killed 58 people two weeks ago. The troops killed 26 insurgents but lost one soldier and a civilian fighter. They recovered many weapons including four anti-aircraft guns, a statement said.

President Muhammadu Buhari insisted Monday that his administration is giving “the highest priority” to resettling some of the 2.5 million refugees from the 6-year-old uprising that has killed about 20,000.

Officials announced months ago that refugees must move from schools occupied for nearly two years, so classes can resume.

“I think it is very, very important, obviously key, to get children back to school,” Volker Turk, the top protection official at the U.N. Refugee Agency, said in a phone interview Wednesday after visiting camps in Maiduguri. “But in this whole attempt to get people into their home area or out of shelters, for us it is key that people are not pushed back to areas where they feel insecure.”


Associated Press writer Michelle Faul contributed to this report from Lagos, Nigeria.

ISMAIL ALFA, Associated Press

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Editorial Board

Editorial Board

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