Officials Building 2,500 Homes for Refugees of Boko Haram

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
November 6, 2015 Updated: November 6, 2015

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria—A new refugee camp with 2,500 temporary homes is being built in Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri for a few of of the hundreds of thousands of refugees there who fled the Boko Haram uprising, officials said.

The camp — another sign that few expect the conflict to end soon — will house refugees occupying public schools, allowing classes to resume, hopefully next month, officials said.

Hundreds of thousands of children have not been to school for more than 18 months in Maiduguri and elsewhere in northeast Nigeria, where authorities closed all schools as they were targeted by the Islamic insurgents. Boko Haram is a nickname meaning “Western education is sinful.”

No one knows how many refugees there are because most live with friends, family and strangers who have taken pity on them. Public grounds and the compounds of mosques and churches also provide refuge.

Some Nigerian officials have said there are about 200,000 refugees in Maiduguri, but Doctors Without Borders put the number at 1 million in August with hundreds arriving each week.\

The U.N. agencies for refugees and children are building the camp along with Borno state government to house about 20,000 people. Mohammed Tejan-Cole of the U.N. refugee agency told a ground-breaking ceremony Thursday that the camp will include wells, toilets, a clinic and classrooms.

President Muhammadu Buhari has said he wants all Boko Haram camps destroyed by the end of the year. Even if that happens, the militants are expected to continue deadly hit-and-run raids and suicide bombings. Some 20,000 people have died in the 6-year-old uprising.