Boko Haram evicted from Nigerian towns, but refugees reluctant to return

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 23 (UPI) — Nigerians who fled villages when they were taken over by Boko Haram face numerous problems when returning home, a United Nations official said Friday.

The Nigerian government is facilitating the return of thousands of people left homeless by the Islamist insurgents, but many are returning to find their towns severely damaged. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman William Spindler cited the city of Gwoza, in Nigeria’s Borno state. Most of the population of 300,000 fled in 2015 and 2016 to escape Boko Haram. The approximately 70,000 who returned after Boko Haram’s ouster in August 2016 found about 70 percent of the city leveled, and new infrastructure, including a hospital, under construction by the government.

Many former residents of Gwoza are reluctant to return, worried about food shortages, as well as land mines and improvised explosive devices on roadways. Some displaced women in nearby Maiduguri are afraid to return to their home districts because they were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in 2014 and 2015, forcibly married and held captive before escaping, the UNHCR said.

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