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2013-05-07

AFRICA/NIGERIA - After the clashes in Baga, displaced people are still homeless

Baga (Agenzia Fides) - Thousands of residents of Baga, in the northeastern State of Borno,in Nigeria, are displaced for fear of further clashes between the radical Islamist group Boko Haram and the combined forces of Nigeria-Niger-Chad of the Multi-National Task Force (MNJTF).
According to estimates by the Nigerian Red Cross, 187 people died in the clashes on 16 and 17 April, although the military claim that the victims are only 37, of whom 30 Muslims, 6 civilians and a soldier. Moreover, according to recent satellite images released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) 2,275 houses were completely destroyed by fire and another 125 seriously damaged (see Fides 02/05/2013). Many residents blamed the soldiers of setting fire to the houses, but the military denied the accusations blaming BH. The area in fact is a BH stronghold and military officials have accused the residents of Borno State of hosting BH members. According to HRW, BH exponents have killed many inhabitants of Borno State, creating a climate of terror in the area. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Red Cross arrived in Baga 8 days after the fire because they had to wait for the go-ahead by the military that believed that the area was still too much at risk for humanitarian workers. Many of the inhabitants are still in the woods after leaving their homes in flames. They fear that there may be other firefights. NEMA has set up a temporary shelter for 600 displaced. Currently, most of the inhabitants of Baga live off fishing and agriculture, since the saved seeds have been devoured by the flames. In the semi-arid region of northeastern Nigeria the rainy season begins in May and lasts until September. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 07/05/2013)

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