General

Eastern Nigeria camp blaze kills two, leaving thousands without shelter

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and humanitarian partners are stepping up assistance to nearly 4,000 displaced people who lost all their goods in a large fire which swept through a camp in Maiduguri, in eastern Nigeria’s Borno State.

The blaze left two people dead and hundreds of families had their shelters destroyed.

The fire broke out on the eve of Muslim festival of Eid-al-Fitr celebrating the end of Ramadan, at the makeshift camp now hosting some 40,000 internally displaced people. It began after sparks from a cooking fireplace spread out and ignited a fire which soon engulfed shelters all around the camp. Houses were razed to the ground and damaged other facilities.

The majority of those affected people were women.

Nearly 300,000 displaced people are scattered in organized and makeshift sites in and around Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. In the past few months, several fire incidents have occurred in congested IDP camps across North East Nigeria where shelters are too close for safety.

UNHCR is working with the authorities, aid agencies and local partners to make sure those affected receive shelter and other relief items as people are once again displaced inside and outside of the camp. Many, including young children, are living under the open skies, needing immediate help with shelter, food and clothing.

A total of some 2.5 million people are displaced across the Lake Chad region, including some 1.8 million inside Nigeria and the rest in Cameroon and Chad. With the ongoing violence by Boko Haram and other armed groups thousands more have to run for their lives each day. Young girls, old women and aid workers continue to bear the brunt of this escalating violence.

With violence on the rise, the threat of COVID19 brings in new threats for the internally displaced living in overcrowded camps and settlements where social distancing is impossible. In response, UNHCR is working with the UN Development Programme to expand several camps and build additional shelters.

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs