Fatchima with her son, Mohamed, 3, in the village of Eguidi

Refugee Crisis in the Sahel - Escape for Peace

"There is nothing more hopeless than not knowing whether tomorrow your children will have something to eat or not," said Fatchima completely exasperated.

As mother and head of her household, Fatchima is very concerned about the well-being of her children. She remembers her life when armed bandits attacked her small town. “It was a day like any other. I was doing the housework and my youngest boy, Mohamed, was playing on the floor. Suddenly, we heard a sound of particular motorcycles; we could tell that it was many motorcycles. I ran outside to find out what was going on. Then, I saw more than 40 motorcycles with three people on each and armed rifle. I cannot describe the feeling that took over me. I was so scared. The only thing I thought about was to protect my children,” she recalled.

Fatchima is from the village of Galoube – located in the northern part of Nigeria, near the border with Niger – where she lived all her life. “My life has always been peaceful in Galoube. There, we were not rich, but I could provide for the needs of my children,” she said.

In early May 2019, security incidents in the Nigerian states bordering the Maradi Region led Nigerian nationals to cross the border to seek refuge in the villages of the department of Guidan-Roumji, Maradi, Niger. Today, there is an estimated 50,000 refugees who fled to Niger. They were not able to bring anything with them. “With my children, we walked more than 20 kilometers. Some of my children did not even have shoes and their clothes were torn. We left everything behind,” she said.

When Fatchima fled, she decided to settle in Eguidi about 20 kilometers away from her native village. "We opted for Eguidi because I am related to the village chief," she said. More than 50 people are now lodged at the house of the village chief.

Immigrants from Nigeria hosted by the village chief of Eguidi
Immigrants from Nigeria hosted by the village chief of Eguidi

 

In order to cope with this massive number of migrants, World Vision Niger, through the Niger Refugee Emergency Response, launched in early July, has implemented various activities to assist displaced populations, in collaboration with the Government of Niger and UNHCR. The Response aims to assist more than 1,200,000 people through various crises in the regions of Tillaberi, Tahoua, Maradi and Diffa.

Although Fatchima’s family was safe from the violence, they now face different struggles. “Our first night in this village was not easy at all. Mohamed cried all night of hunger,” she remembers.

“I do not intend to return to Galoube. Here, I feel safer. We at least get to sleep peacefully” said Fatchima.