Armed conflict has plagued north-east Nigeria for years. Since the last part of 2014, the violence has increasingly become regional, affecting northern Cameroon, Chad and Niger. This conflict is characterized by extreme violence against the civilian population. Basic rules of international humanitarian law are not being respected.
The Sanusi Family had to trek 400 kilometres on foot across mountains with little food or water to reach safety in Cameroon. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Jesus Serrano Redondo
In Cameroon, Awa and Salamatou Ousmane are trying to figure out how to raise their combined 13 children without a father. Their large family was living peacefully in Madagali, Nigeria, when the father was killed in front of them during an attack. They quickly shielded the children's eyes and hurried into their home.
A major concern as they fled with their nine boys and four girls was not to stumble into violence as they travelled to their in-laws in neighbouring Cameroon. When asked what the family's needs are, Awa answers in a whisper: "I don't even know where to start ... everything is missing."
Swyiman Sanusi was working as a teacher in Gulak until 5 September when he had to flee for his life. His wife Maria managed to escape with three children four days later and found refuge in Mubi. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Jesus Serrano Redondo
The children no longer go to school and the chances of their sitting in a classroom any time soon are slim. Setting priorities is a difficult task. The children wear rags for clothes. Some fall sick. There is no money for clothes or medicine.
"For now, we're at least trying to get them a meal once a day," Awa says. "They are aware, even the youngest one, that they can sometimes help by begging in the market. But they know they can't do much."
On top of their physical needs is the psychological trauma of seeing their husband and father killed. The youngest child crawls around on the floor. "Look at her, she was three months old when her father died," Awa says. "What are we going to tell her later on?"
A Nigerian woman who has fled across the border into Chad makes use of an ICRC phone to contact her family. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Jesus Serrano Redondo
"I ran away with my children because the suffering was unbearable. We couldn't take it anymore!" says Hafeesa Adamu. "We were just walking from village to village. We walked like this until we got to Mubi. From Mubi, we moved to a town called Maiha. From there, we moved to Cameroon – to a village close to the border."
ICRC interview, Yola, Nigeria, March 2015