When it rains, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Tse-Yandev, Benue State, North-central Nigeria, shiver in trepidation. Their tents can protect them from the sun but not the rain.
Gizan Toma, 84, sits in her tent, her eyes picking up objects around her. She is pale yet eager to light a stick of the cigarette pack in her hand. Her lighter fails to work because it was beaten by the rain. Instead, she waits for Vialumun, another woman in the camp, to bring her own lighter.
“I have been beaten by rain all through the night. Right now all my body aches and when it is like this, the only option is to smoke and feel warmth again. Smoking is beneficial at this moment because it also helps me stop thinking too much,” she says.
Perluve, 80, smokes because it helps her “not to think too much.” Until her forceful relocation to Tse-Yandev IDP camp, Perluve had never smoked.
“I used to be a good church goer in my village. I’m smoking because whenever I don’t smoke, I always think of suicide,” she explains. “While I was in the village, I was successful in the farm.”
An unfortunate story soon followed: “It happened in 2018, when four of my children were killed the same day while working on the farm. They were working when some armed men surrounded them and killed four of them at the spot. The armed men were later recognised as herders.”
“Since then, I have not been able to think straight. I wanted to go die with them but people wouldn’t let me.”