Mayara*: “This was how we survived”
I fled to Kolofata in Cameroon more than one year ago because of Boko Haram. We lived in Kolofata for more than one year and then the Cameroonian soldiers just decided to send people back to Nigeria without any explanation. They forced the men to come here. They woke us early in the morning and gathered us in a field. On the day I was brought to Banki my wife went into labour and was rushed to the clinic. All my six children are there in Kolofata with her. I was the only one that came here to Banki. I wanted to go see my wife to know how she was doing but the soldiers didn’t let me leave.
Living in Cameroon was not pleasant at all. We had water and food problems. We never benefited from any food distribution. You either farmed or did menial jobs like breaking firewood, or selling water. This was how we survived. There were several days we went hungry because there was no food. Since I arrived in Banki, I have not had good sleep because of the thoughts of my family. I don’t know if my wife delivered safely and what the condition of the child is. I don’t know anything about my family and this is giving me sleepless nights. My biggest problem right now is my family, the fact that they are not here and I don’t know how they are.
Malla*: “It was a struggle to get food to eat”
I lived in Cameroon for three years after fleeing Nigeria with my family because of Boko Haram. For the entire duration of our stay there, we never received anything in terms of food or non-food distribution, not once. It was a struggle to get food to eat. Some worked on people’s farms in exchange for food or money, some worked in building sites as labourers, and some begged for alms. I don’t know the whereabouts of my family after they were deported by Cameroon soldiers a month ago while I was brought to Banki two weeks ago. The soldiers came and gathered people. Those who didn’t have Cameroonian ID were put into vehicles and driven away. I could only come with the clothes I’m wearing now. They did not even allow me to go inside my house to take some of my belongings.
Since coming here, I have not heard from my family to know how they are faring. In Banki, I sleep on mats without blankets in this open place. The mats were given recently but before then, I was sleeping on the ground. It was not my wish to come here but I had no choice. It would have been better if I was taken to Pulka or Gwoza, which is my area, than coming here. I could not tell the soldiers where to take me to because I was scared they would take me to a different place.
*names have been changed