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Olivier Laban-Mattei / MYOP



On The Other Side Of The Lake
France     labanmattei.photoshelter.com

More than 18,000 people have already come here in search of safety. On January 3rd, these men and women fled the atrocities of the Boko Haram on the port city of Baga and its surrounding villages. Cornered by the fighting, they boarded canoes to escape what Amnesty International considers, “the most deadly attack” every perpetrated by the Islamic sect. The United Nations Refugee Agency and the Chadian commission for receiving refugees are working to bring aid these survivors, exhausted after weeks of wandering the lake. But conditions are extreme in this underdeveloped region. More than 7,000 refugees are scattered across the dozens of islands on the lake. Bringing them all to one place is the only way to help them.

For several days, Laban-Mattei documented the rescue and relocation operations led by the UN Refugee Agency and local authorities. But their efforts have been hindered by the threat of Boko Haram in Chad. On February 13th, Islamists burned and pillaged the village of Ngoubou, killing ten, which until January had served as the main Nigerian refugee camp. The majority of them had been transferred to the Dar es Salaam camp, considered safer at 70 kilometers from the border. Today, 3,800 refugees reside in Dar es Salaam. Each family is given shelter, food and medical care. Many more are likely to arrive.