Al Jazeera — They have fled their homes, schools, and farmland, often more than two years ago, and still cannot return home. Most displaced Nigerians on the run for Boko Haram did not go to camps for shelter; they went to people’s homes and found shelter with fellow Nigerians.
Ever since the armed group Boko Haram started its campaign of violence in 2009 in northeastern Nigeria, more than 2.1 million Nigerians have been on the run. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are currently 1.9 million internally displaced people (IDP) in the West African country.
Reports about this humanitarian crisis often come from IDP camps, and the people finding refuge there. This is just a part of the story.
According to the UN, more than 80 percent of IDPs found refuge with fellow Nigerians. Al Jazeera travelled around Nigeria’s north to learn what compelled some of these hosts to open their doors, and homes, to people fleeing violence.
‘You give what you have, however little’
Haruna Ya’u was about seven and his mother was cooking tuwo masara, his favourite corn meal dish, when their neighbour arrived to see his father.
His family was hungry, the neighbour explained, and he did not have money to feed them.
“Before I knew it, my father instructed my mother to give the food to the neighbours,” Haruna, now 35, recalls. His mother just smiled and took the food next door.
“From my parents, I learned that whenever you see someone who needs help, you give them what you have. However little it is.”
When the first people fleeing Boko Haram violence reached Kano, Nigeria’s largest northern city, Haruna felt it was only natural to help. It was early 2015 and the number of displaced Nigerians from the northeast was soaring as Boko Haram swept through town after town.
Haruna, who is a bricklayer, built a wall in his compound to divide it into two. He then told people at his mosque that his doors were open to anyone who needed help. He thought that he and his family of three wives and 10 children were well-off enough to afford to make space for more people.
Continue to read at Al Jazeera