Saleh talks to ICRC staff members in Malkohi camp Nigeria.

Nigeria: Saleh Shares his Story of Displacement

Across Nigeria, more than two million people have been displaced by conflict. For some, the search for stability never stops.
Article 20 February 2023 Nigeria

Saleh Abdullahi has been displaced by conflict more than once.

He worked as a grain trader and farmer in Gwoza of Borno State in Nigeria's northeast, selling maize, millet, sorghum, groundnuts, beans.

Forced to leave due to conflict, he now lives with his family in a settlement for internally displaced people in Malkohi, Yola – more than 200 kilometers away from his original home. Saleh shares his story.

"In August 2014, our community was invaded," he remembers.

I had to leave the town out of fear.

Targeted by armed groups in Gwoza for his perceived wealth as a trader, Saleh was no longer able to live a normal life. He was no longer safe.

He sought refuge in Madagali town in neighboring Adamawa State, where he was later joined by his family. After settling, there were more attacks. To stay safe, Saleh's family was forced to move once more.

Being displaced can often lead to being separated from loved ones. Yet again, he relocated to Yola's Malkohi settlement months before his family did – as they had sought temporary shelter across the border in Cameroon.

We left everything we had behind, and our lives took a different turn.

Saleh says.

"We started farming after being supported by humanitarian organizations. We also worked on people's farms and engaged in menial jobs to get paid."

With this support, Saleh returned to farming – including maize, rice, groundnuts, and vegetables for food. But even after harvesting and selling his produce, buying food for the family was still a challenge. Saleh felt stranded. Resources felt stretched.
Receiving a business grant as part of an ICRC livelihood program helped lighten the burden somewhat for his grains business.

Saleh at Malkohi camp in Yola, Nigeria. 

"I do not need to sell my harvests again to meet the other needs of my family," Saleh says. "The proceeds from the business cover all other expenses now."

Lost homes, livelihoods and loved ones. These challenges add up and can leave invisible scars on people in the wake of conflict.

We seek to support people from all communities affected by conflict to face these challenges – across northeast Nigeria and beyond.

Saleh's story is unique, but he's far from alone. Being displaced by conflict more than once is an experience shared by all too many in Nigeria.