People forced to flee
“I live in the Tse Lowi [camp site] with my son and six grandchildren. In February, it will be two years since we had to flee our village. Armed men descended on the village after dark, setting fire to our houses and killing people in a most dreadful way. My son’s wife died that night. They burnt down my house and we had no choice but to flee in the middle of the night, taking nothing but the clothes on our backs. We walked for three days and spent three nights sleeping in the bush to get away from the attackers. I was scared. We finally reached Tse Lowi on the third day”, explains Yvonne, sitting in front of her straw hut, barefoot and wearing a tattered dress. Inside the hut, one of her grandsons is stoking the fire crackling beneath a bubbling saucepan. The hut seems fragile; as if it could go up in flames with the slightest gust of wind. It’s hard to imagine how eight people can sleep in this small space, which serves both as bedroom and kitchen.
Dozens of makeshift camp sites have sprung up in the hills of Nizi. They can be distinguished by their straw roofs while more established settlements sometimes have tarpaulins to protect the shelters from the rain. The most fortunate ones live in buildings built by humanitarian agencies. Still, none of the sites cater sufficiently meet the needs of the displaced; they lack food, clean water and sanitation. People are developing preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea, malnutrition, respiratory infections and malaria. Thousands of children are affected and killed by these illnesses. According to recent surveys carried out by MSF, the mortality rate is three times above the emergency threshold among children under the age of five who arrived during April 2019.