Maiduguri, Nigeria (CNN): As night falls, the curfew comes into effect. Nobody is allowed on the streets. Anxiety hangs in the air.
Those unable to make it home before sunset are shepherded to roundabouts to wait until day breaks.
This is Maiduguri — a city on the edge.
The capital of Borno state, it is at the heart of the Nigerian Army’s battle to retake Boko Haram territory. A place where no one is above suspicion. Where young girls, packaged as suicide bombers, are sent by militants to realize the group’s brutal jihad. cameroon enslaved boko haram mckenzie pkg_00000808.jpg
Teenagers outside of the city’s comparative safety — like the Chibok girls — are targeted and snatched away by Boko Haram. Forced into marriage, they enduring years of rape by their self-proclaimed husbands. Then they volunteer to die. The risk of being strapped with a bomb more appealing than remaining in the group’s Sambisa Forest stronghold, their personal hell on earth.
And yet, despite the threat of suicide attack, Maidugiri has become a beacon. An oasis in the northeast of Nigeria where a civilian joint task force works to protect its inhabitants. Today an estimated 2.5 million people have been displaced across the northeast of the country and the city’s camps has become a haven for over a million people left homeless.
With limited access to health care, clean water and sanitation, the risk of illness is high. The tension is palpable and everyone is on alert.CNN