Thousands of people uprooted from their homes by the Boko Haram insurgency took to the streets in the sprawling Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Sunday to protest at food shortages and poor conditions in their camp.
More than 2.6 million people have been displaced by the deadly violence in northeastern Nigeria that erupted eight years ago and forced into camps and host communities.
Around 3,000 people living in the Dalori camp protested in Maiduguri, the epicenter of the insurgency, denouncing food and water shortages as well as “appalling” living conditions.
The protesters, from Borno state’s second largest town of Bama, urged the authorities to allow them to return home and rebuild their shattered lives.
“We are protesting to demand our right to return to our homes in Bama because of the appalling conditions we live in the camp,” Babagana Mohammed told AFP.
“We have no food, no water and our children don’t go to school,” said the 32-year-old father of five.
Mohammed also said he wondered why those displaced from other towns, such as Gwoza, Dikwa and Gamboru, were allowed to return home.
The protesters were blocked by the military and police around two kilometers (over one mile) from the camp and prevented from heading to the governor’s office.
“All we ask for is to be allowed to return to Bama,” protester Kulo Gana said.
“We need to go back and rebuild our homes, grow our food because we are tired of living in Maiduguri in abject poverty and untold suffering,” Gana said.
“We have all it takes to start a new life back home,” said another protester Mohammed Kassim.
As the second biggest town in Borno state, Bama was home to 270,000 residents and a major trading hub on the road to Cameroon before it was captured by Boko Haram in September 2014.
When it was retaken by the military in March last year 85 percent of the town had been destroyed by the militants.