Northeast Nigeria: Tales of widows

Publié: 26 juillet 2014 12:52 CET

By Nwakpa O. Nwakpa, Nigerian Red Cross Society

The pain, destruction, loss of lives and, worst of all, fear of the unknown, could be felt and touched on the streets of Maiduguri, in northeast Nigeria, despite the seeming calmness of people going about their normal business amid a heavy military presence.

As the Nigerian Red Cross Society begins its vulnerability and capacity assessments (VCA) in the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe where the government has declared states of emergency, it is obvious that humanitarian assistance is urgently needed as widows, orphans and fatherless children come to terms with the aftermath  of the insurgency.

“I am still hoping to wake up from this dream,” said Ya Gana Bukar, a 25-year-old widow whose husband was killed after being married for just ten months. “I have gone back to my parents not knowing what to do,” Ya Gana lamented.

Ya Umara’am lost her husband, three of her nine children, and a relative in one of the attacks. “I now engage in petty trading to take care of the surviving members of my family. It is difficult. I am not used to this. My husband was the sole bread winner of the family,” explained Ya Umara’am. Of her six remaining children, the eldest is ten and, like many children in the northeast, none is in school.

Bawagana Bulama was married for eight years and has four children, but her story changed when her husband was shot dead by unknown gun men, making her a widow at the age of 20.

Their stories are the same, with the pain of loss, fear, uncertainty and a seemingly bleak future. “A general famine looms next year as farming activities have been greatly disrupted, both by fear of attack and scanty rainfall,” said Bulama Mali Gubio, chairman of the Borno Branch of the Nigerian Red Cross Society.

“The humanitarian needs in the northeast are enormous and we have to scale up our activities to help meet those needs,” said Bello Hamman Diram, Secretary General of the Nigerian Red Cross Society. “The financial support we received from the Government of Japan has enabled us to start the process of an indepth humanitarian response in the northeast through the VCA. But we need to do more and we will do more, and reach more people, if we get increased support from other organizations, governments and individuals.”