Conflict involving Boko Haram has driven girls, boys, women and men from their homes. The danger comes fast and, often with no time to spare before an attack, families grab what they can and head off in desperate hope of finding safety. Somewhere their lives won’t be at risk.

Over two million people in Nigeria – most of them women and children - have fled their homes and their communities in a desperate attempt to survive. Most make their way to the temporary camps, set up to provide shelter and protection to those fleeing the conflict and violence that has devastated parts of the country for over a decade.

Homes, schools, friends, toys, and books – left abandoned in the urgent search for safety, for a place where children’s lives will no longer be in danger.

But for children in Nigeria, escaping the conflict does not mean escaping danger.

Scrap metal – or an explosive? Why children in Nigeria need to know the difference

Armed groups attempt to control regions by force – and by littering the land with improvised landmines and bombs. These killing devices need only the lightest step or touch of a child to trigger their deadly blast.

Nine-year old Mustapha lost his life to an explosive that he and his young uncle, Bakura, had thought was harmless scrap metal. 

The boys had brought it with them to the temporary camp where they live with Falmata, Bakura’s mother. They wanted to open it and see what was inside.

The blast killed Mustapha instantly, left Bakura in a critical condition and caused injuries to Falmata and a woman from a neighbouring tent. 

Neither Mustapha nor Bakura had benefitted from one of MAG’s life-saving lessons. If they had, they might have known that the metal object was an explosive – and to leave it alone and report it for safe removal by MAG. If they had, no-one would have been injured that day. If they had, Mustapha might be alive.

Bakura and his mother, Falmata. Both were injured in the blast that killed Mustapha.

MAG’s life-saving lessons make families and children safe from the threat of mines and bombs by teaching them how to recognise explosives, how to report them – and how to stay alive. Together we can help teach other children how to be safe. Your donation can save lives. 

The choice is a stark one for already vulnerable parents. Stay and risk their family being killed or kidnapped by armed groups. Or flee, across unfamiliar land, and risk their family to the killers hidden below the surface.

Many children in Nigeria have lived with fear, every day of their young lives. They simply don’t know what it is to feel safe. You can help change that.

Children love our life-saving lessons. Their full engagement means that they will remember the information for many years to come – and will recall it and act on it whenever they come across a mine or bomb. The children are excited to learn, using the games and materials MAG provides to help that learning stick, and share their learning with their families. For a few hours, they get to be children again. They leave our lessons with a new feeling – they now feel safe, confident in what they have learnt.

All photos by © MAG/KC Nwakalor