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Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Tell Of Horrors

In Chad, savage accounts from the first wave of refugees after reported massacres in Nigeria. Meanwhile, forces Wednesday have begun to step up the military response to Boko Haram.

Nigerian refugees fleeing on Lake Chad
Nigerian refugees fleeing on Lake Chad
Christophe Châtelot

BAGA SOLA — Idriss Déby is a living miracle. To be clear, this is another Idriss Déby, not the Chadian President, who shares the same name, and who is also in his own way a lucky survivor after resisting countless rebellions. The latest of course, as of mid-January, is a new war being waged against Boko Haram and its Islamist fighters terrorizing the populations along the border with Nigeria.

This other Idriss Déby is instead a newborn baby, brought into the world in a dugout canoe by a Nigerian family fleeing on Lake Chad from the murderous Islamist sect in the northern region of their country, just 70 kilometers from here. Little Idriss now lives under a tent of the United Nations Refugee Agency in the hastily set-up camp of Dar es Salaam, Chad, about 10 kilometers from the port of Baga Sola.

“Idriss Déby is Chad’s leader. And so it’s thanks to him that we’re here, alive. So I named my son in his honor,” explains the father, Oumara Estivi. He, his wife Aïcha and their seven children washed up, destitute but alive, on the Chadian shores of the lake where the borders of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad meet. Seven children of their own, plus a two-year-old girl they rescued during their escape.

Like most of the 5,000 refugees in this camp, the Estivis bolted from northeastern Nigeria during the series of Boko Haram attacks on the city of Baga and the surrounding villages in early January, during which 2,000 are believed to have been killed.

“We’re from Doron Baga, on the lakefront,” says the father, a fisherman like many others in the region. “When we heard what had happened in Baga and I saw Boko Haram approaching, I immediately took a canoe and we went to Kangalam, the first Chadian village, on an island.” The Chadian authorities came for them a few days later and drove them to Dar es Salaam.

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García Márquez And Truth: How Journalism Fed The Novelist's Fantasy

In his early journalistic writings, the Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez showed he had an eye for factual details, in which he found the absurdity and 'magic' that would in time be the stuff and style of his fiction.

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