A UNICEF-supported safe space for children in the Dalori camp for internally displaced people, in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri in Borno State. File Photo: UNICEF/Andrew Esiebo

Hundreds of internally displaced people are returning to devastated villages and towns that have recently been liberated by the Nigerian armed forces in the north-eastern state of Borno, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said.

Sixteen districts that were formerly controlled by Boko Haram insurgents are now accessible to aid agencies.

Daniel Dickinson reports

UNHCR said it expects the number of returnees to grow in the coming weeks.

Concerns remain about the conditions they will come back to.

Some 800,000 who are already there need immediate assistance.

Here’s UNHCR’s Leo Dobbs.

“The 800,000 are people who were there throughout the Boko Haram regime and they are in a terrible state and in great need.

On top of this we have people who fled their homes in Borno during the course of this insurgency and now they want to go back. And one of the main reasons they want to go back is because the conditions where they have been staying are so dire.”

Many of the returnees will return to destroyed homes and infrastructure, and areas lacking health care and other services.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

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