Musa's Story

Every night after dinner Musa's father would tell jokes to his seven children, leaving them in fits of laughter as they readied for bed.

"He was not a big man but he was strong," Musa says, sitting in a dusty two bedroom hut being used to shelter about a dozen extended family members. "When he was alive he would give us everything."

Musa's father and uncle were killed last April during heavy fighting between Boko Haram and Nigerian army troops in the north east of the country.

Musa and his family had fled their home as the bloodshed neared, leaving everything they owned behind.

"But on that day there was actually more fighting in the town that we arrived in, it was happening everywhere," Musa says. "We could hear gunshots, bomb blasts all around."

Eventually they found somewhere to hide, only for Musa's father and uncle to go back home and help other relatives get away, collect belongings and tend to their cattle.

They both never returned, and weeks later during a lull in fighting Musa returned home and found his father's bloody corpse.

Musa is among more than 1.4 million Nigerians who've fled their homes because of the worsening violence, which has seen entire communities destroyed, children brutally attacked and schools taken over by armed groups. At least 7,700 people have been killed and 9 million affected from the fighting.

More than 150,000 of the displaced have sought refuge in neighboring countries Chad, Niger and Cameroon, while most are like Musa and stay in Nigeria with relatives, friends or anyone with a spare room or an empty shed who will take them in.

There are some formal camps for the displaced too, as well as dozens of informal settlements that are without basic services like toilets or access to safe drinking water.

Inside the camps the fear is palpable. Save the Children workers have been told of children suffering night terrors and waking up screaming in the early hours of the morning.

The truth, however, is that most of the displaced don't know if and when they will have to flee again. Some have fled several times already as the fighting spreads, and they hurriedly gather whatever they can and start running once more.

Making matters worse has been the oppressive heat, which engulfs much of West Africa this time of year as temperatures push into the 100s.

That is, until the wet season hits. The rains are just arriving in the north now, bringing a new set of drastic consequences for the displaced.

Many families have not been able to plant or harvest for two growing seasons because of fighting, creating massive food shortages.

The rains will put an end to what little harvesting has taken place. Eventually the markets will run out of food and it's predicted up to three million people won't have enough food soon unless there is significant humanitarian intervention.

"We don't have enough food here," Musa says. "We cannot farm here. Now we have to buy food. Before we had big portions, now they are small. We normally eat just two times a day now."

The rains will also impact the ability of aid agencies to reach communities in remote areas as roads become impassable, not to mention increasing the risk of spreading disease. Last wet season there was a Cholera outbreak with over 4,500 cases and 70 deaths, but luckily it was contained.

Save the Children was among those to respond, helping affected communities by implementing hygienic practices around hand washing and cooking, distributing jerry cans so families could collect clean drinking water rather than using contaminated sources and handing out water purification tablets.

This wet season there are four times more displaced people, many living in squalid, damp conditions; a perfect breeding ground for diseases like Cholera.

No doubt lessons already learned will help numerous communities ward off deadly illness, however it is just one danger in a rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis.

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