BREAKING: How widows survive in Niger IDP Camps after bandits killed husbands

The renewed attacks on farming communities in Shiroro, Munya, Wushishi, Rafi, Mariga and part of Mashegu local government areas of Niger State have again worsened the humanitarian crisis in the state, and bearing the brunt more are women, who now have to shoulder family responsibilities after losing their husbands.

Checks at the IDP camps in the state revealed that dozens of widows whose husbands were killed by bandits now work as nannies or are engaged in one menial job or the other to survive with their children….CONTINUE READING

Though many of them kept mute on the issue of exploitation in the struggle to survive, some of them confided in Daily Trust Saturday that some women and young girls now work as prostitutes to feed their families.

Our correspondent also gathered that the rate at which bandits rape women is also of concern.

Laziya Awal, a mother of five, is one of the widows whose husbands were killed during one of the attacks in Shiroro Local Government.

“I have spent seven years in Kuta as an Internally Displaced Person. I have 5 children. My husband was killed by bandits and while I was in my waiting period as a widow, bandits struck again and kidnapped me. I spent three months in captivity. They came around 2am and abducted 11 of us, all women. They released us after the payment of N400, 000 ransom.

“My husband was shot in my presence. It was a heartless killing. When they came, they held us hostage in our house with my husband. They asked him a lot of questions. Later, they asked me to go out of the room. My husband didn’t expect they would kill him. When they were done asking him questions, they asked me to come in and one of them ordered his killing. When they shot him, his scream brought me down on my knees with tears. I felt as if the world had ended with the way my husband screamed when the bullet penetrated him at a close range,” she narrated.

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Mrs Awal said throughout the three months in captivity, they were in chains. She said, “they hardly gave us even water. Each day, you were entitled to one spoonful of rice in the morning and another one around 4pm. That was all for the day. We were the ones cooking the rice by ourselves without oil and ingredients. If you request for water, you would be whipped before they give you.”

She said one of her little daughters was sick and in need of drugs but she didn’t have money to foot the hospital bill.

Also in the same condition was Sadiya Muhammad, mother of seven whose husband was killed on his farm. She said her children were out of school due to financial constraint including her eldest daughter who was due to write her Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE).

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She said she now engages in menial jobs with her children to feed, adding that “the classrooms we live in are leaking. If it rains, we don’t sleep because of the leaking roofs. It’s been long we got humanitarian supports from government or individuals.”

At the door step of one of the classrooms was 55-year-old Maryam Ibrahim. She looked worried and frustrated. She lives with the hard-to-forget memories of experiences with bandits. Two of her children were shot dead by bandits.

“We have witnessed seven rainy seasons in IDP camp. Each time we return home, we get attacked again. Just five days ago, five people were killed by bandits in my village. The sixth one is still in the hospital. We just returned home recently; we were attacked again seven days after. We even wanted to go into negotiation with attackers if that would bring us peace and allow us go about our farming activities because we are hungry. But that didn’t work out. Of the five people killed recently, two of them were my children. Our major challenges are food and a good place to sleep,” she said.

Ramatu Iliyasu, another IDP, also lost her 15-year-old son to banditry. She said he was killed while coming back home from the farm.

“The day they attacked our village, we slept in the bush and trekked several kilometres the following day to the IDP camp. We don’t have food; we don’t have peace,” she said.

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The chairman of Shiroro Local Government Area, Akilu Isyaku Kuta, told Daily Trust Saturday that the security situation in Shiroro LGA and other parts of the state had deteriorated in recent time. He confirmed that classrooms in which IDPs live were not conducive for habitation.

“In the actual sense, we are still facing the security challenges up till now. Even two days ago, one of our routine immunization facilitators was killed by bandits when they were on immunization duties in communities. They were attacked by Boko Haram. This shows that the insecurity we are facing still exists.

“Here in Kuta, as of last month, we did not have more than 170 IDPs but now, they are more than 2, 000. The state and local governments are doing their best but we need support, especially with relief materials, because even the classrooms where they live are not conducive. We have five IDP camps in Shiroro Local Government alone,” he said.

The Overseeing Director General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Garba Salihu, also confirmed that humanitarian situation in the state had deteriorated in recent time, especially with the renewed attacks by bandits on communities in Shiroro, Munya, Wushishi and Mariga LGAs….CONTINUE READING