Maiduguri: A hu­man­i­tar­ian hub deep in Boko Haram ter­ri­tory

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Man­goes and wa­ter­mel­ons, prayer mats and Chi­ne­se­made uten­sils are again fill­ing the stalls of Maiduguri’s mar­kets, as they re­cover af­ter years of Boko Haram vi­o­lence. Traders sweat­ing be­hind wheel­bar­rows over­loaded with goods fight their way through the crowded al­ley­ways in north­east Nige­ria’s big­gest city. But in the birth­place of Boko Haram, ap­pear­ances are of­ten de­cep­tive.

The eight-year in­sur­gency has brought the Borno state cap­i­tal to its knees, af­ter cen­turies as a com­mer­cial cross­roads be­tween the Sa­hel and cen­tral Africa. The his­toric trad­ing hub has been trans­formed into a cen­tre of hu­man­i­tar­ian aid. Life runs ac­cord­ing to the rhythm of the aid agen­cies that have flocked there in the last year. But Modu Kolo Dunoma, the head of the Mon­day Mar­ket-the city’s big­gest and a fre­quent tar­get for Boko Haram’s bombs and bombers-told AFP: “We face a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion.

“Farm­ers still can’t go back to their farms and most of the food items are im­ported from other states. Prices have re­ally gone up.” A sack of rice that once sold for 8,000 naira ($25, 22 euros) now goes for 17,000 naira as a re­sult of food short­ages, spi­ralling in­fla­tion and an econ­omy in re­ces­sion. “Peo­ple just can’t af­ford to buy food,” said Dunoma.

On the edge of the city, nev­erend­ing lines of lor­ries spend days wait­ing to take their car­goes to Dikwa and be­yond to neigh­bor­ing Cameroon. Maiduguri’s main source of rev­enue-the trans­port of goods to land-locked coun­tries such as Chad, Cen­tral African Repub­lic and Su­dan-is strug­gling to take off again.

The army has re­opened some main roads but am­bushes still hap­pen fre­quently and ve­hi­cles are not al­lowed to travel with­out a heav­ily armed mil­i­tary es­cort. Maiduguri’s needs re­main huge, how­ever, with the pop­u­la­tion hav­ing dou­bled since 2009, as more than one mil­lion peo­ple sought safe haven from Boko Haram at­tacks. Con­fined to camps or liv­ing among the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion, they sur­vive on ex­ter­nal aid.

Ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions, nearly two mil­lion peo­ple in the north­east re­gion are cur­rently suf­fer­ing from se­vere acute mal­nu­tri­tion and 5.5 mil­lion are in need of food aid. The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity be­lat­edly re­al­ized the scale of the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in north­east Nige­ria and most of the NGOs now in Maiduguri only ar­rived from mid-2016. —AFP

—AFP

MAIDUGURI: This file photo taken on July 4, 2017 shows a man look­ing at pota­toes dis­played on a stall at the Mon­day-Mar­ket, one of the big­gest mar­kets.

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