News / Africa

Thousands Displaced by Nigeria Military Operations

Women sit with their children at a camp for internally displaced people in Nigeria's central city of Jos.
Women sit with their children at a camp for internally displaced people in Nigeria's central city of Jos.
TEXT SIZE - +
Heather Murdock
ABUJA — Thousands of villagers in Nigeria have been evacuated from their homes while the military conducts a counter-terrorism operation in Plateau State, the scene of deadly attacks earlier this month. The displaced families, now living in camps, say they do not have nearly enough food, and most people lack adequate shelter. 
 
Abdullahi Bello, an ethnic Fulani herdsman, came to a makeshift camp Monday night after he was ordered to leave his home for a military operation he does not understand.  
Besides being hungry and without a roof over their heads, he says his community of displaced families - thousands of people - is fearful that no one will be able to return to their homes.
 
“Everybody here is afraid," said Bello. "They don’t know what is going on. They are very afraid of that.”
 
Bello is using a cellphone that he says will only continue to work without access to electricity for two more days. He says the displaced villagers' cattle herds - thousands of animals - are now packed into a small area with no place to graze, so starvation is a real risk.
 
Activists say the military has cordoned off that part of Plateau State, and any roads that are not blocked are not secure, so no one can get into or out of the region.

Muhammadu Adamu Ardo, a community leader in a different camp, says he was forced from his home with nothing, and told he would be able to return within two days. 
 
In his native Hausa language, Ardo says authorities told him Wednesday that he would have to wait two more weeks. Local news reports quote both of those conflicting time estimates from official sources.  

The spokesman for the military's Special Task Force for anti-terrorist operations, Captain Salihu Mustapha, says the operation is ongoing and there is no official time frame for its duration.
 
Saleh Momale, the executive director of Pastoralists Resolve, an organization that advocates for the rights of Fulani herdsmen, says negotiations Monday persuaded Fulani leaders who initially opposed the evacuation orders that the military would protect and provide for displaced people, and that there is no deliberate attempt to displace ethnic Fulanis.

“The ministry authorities assured them that their intentions have not any interest than security surveillance, and that they want to carry out some detailed investigations,” Momale said.
 
Despite that, Momale says the military is not living up to its promise to provide shelter, food and protection for families who left their homes.

“Considering the harsh climatic situation in Plateau State and those condition of those camps where the people where they are seriously worried at the moment,” he said.
 
The evacuation comes two weeks after deadly clashes in the area on July 7 and 8 that already had displaced about 5,500 other people in the area. The Red Cross says many of those earlier evacuees fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs. 
 
Human Rights Watch says nearly 4,000 people have been killed in clashes between Muslim Fulani communities and Christian Berom communities in Plateau State over the past decade, usually over land resources and reprisals.
 
Authorities have blamed "terrorists" for the clashes on July 7-8. Islamist sect Boko Haram, which has been blamed for more than 1,000 deaths since 2009, claimed responsibility for some of the violence.
 
Ardo Hazzad contributed to this report.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid