Displaced people from Borno vandalize homes and sell building materials for food


As hunger pangs escalate due to diminished access to livelihoods, internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Borno State, North East Nigeria have resorted to various desperate measures, including tearing down the roofing sheets of their homes to sell them for food.

HumAngle can report that many buildings and tents in the Gubio IDP camp have been vandalized because the dismantled building materials were sold or bartered for food.

Idris Musa, a leader among the internally displaced in Gubio camp, told HumAngle that his fellow IDPs turned to vandalism out of desperation.

“If you look around the camp here, you notice that buildings are vandalized, toilet slabs are removed, window and door frames and even roofing sheets,” Musa said, as he drove our reporter into the camp.

“People are hungry, very hungry, and that causes a lot of problems for us here in the camp. You would see a man either giving up his tent space in exchange for food to feed his family, or breaking toilet slabs to extract the iron rods to sell. The corrugated sheets used in the construction of makeshift toilets were removed overnight and sold due to the famine.

Some displaced people who sold their tarps to feed their families are now living in shacks like this. Photo credit: Abdulkareem/HumAngle

Buba Ali, a 37-year-old father of five, said after eating wild grass his wife cooked with salt: “I had no choice but to swap our tarp tent against money.

“I sold it and used some of the money to buy braided grass to erect a thatched hut, while we used the rest of the proceeds to buy groceries for the family,” said- he added.

“It’s better to sleep in an uncomfortable tent than to see children go to bed hungry.”

Gubio IDP camp is located in an unfinished housing estate on the outskirts of Maiduguri. At the time the displaced people were forced to flee their communities by Boko Haram, the housing project, a 250 2 bedroom apartment, was at an advanced stage of completion.

Along with five other large unfinished housing estates, the Gubio Road housing estate has been allocated for displaced people to live there temporarily.

A street in Gubio IDP where detainees exchange their homes for food or money. Photo credit: Abdulkareem/HumAngle

The displaced people have been living in the unfinished public property for nearly eight years which has so far degenerated due to vandalism and a zero maintenance culture.

Yuguda Saleh Vungas, the Borno state housing commissioner, told HumAngle that overhauling abandoned housing estates after displaced people leave “would amount to rebuilding most structures from scratch”.

Prior to December 2021, there were 16 official IDP camps in Borno State and most of them were located within the compound of government schools or housing estates.

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