© UNICEF/UN028799/Tremeau

This small community is welcoming refugees with open arms

An eye-opening photo essay from the shores of Lake Chad.

Communities in the Lake Chad Basin are among the poorest in the world. Yet, more than eight out of ten people uprooted by the Boko Haram conflict are living in host communities, not camps.

The people of the small of village of Tagal, in the Lake Region of Chad, have done everything possible to accommodate their neighbours who came looking for safety.
UNICEF/2016/Tremeau
Boulama Mahamat, 42, the chief of Tagal, is hosting refugee families.

“We’re all living together in a very limited space. We share the little we have: our mats, our land, our crops and our houses. Myself, I’m hosting two families.” 
© UNICEF/UN028756/Tremeau
Over half of Lake Chad is taken up by many small islands. Following Boko Haram attacks many islanders had to flee their homes to take refuge in villages around the lake's shores.
© UNICEF/UN028817/Tremeau
“I was shocked when they told me how their village was burned. They were staying on the sand under the trees. I did not think twice and gave them this house." Al Hadji Hassan, 72, is hosting Ismael Adam, 33, and his family.
© UNICEF/UN028833/Tremeau
“How could you close the door to a family who comes here with children and who’s lost everything? We are a community and that means we must help those in need.” 

Zara, from Tagal, is one among many locals who are building bridges between communities affected by the conflict.
© UNICEF/UN028759/Tremeau
​Mamadou Koroundo and his family were struggling in their new home until generous locals offered to help.

“I was born in my island and all I know is fishing. When I came here, I had nothing to do and the neighbours helped me. They lend me their canoe and now I can fish to feed my family.”
© UNICEF/UN028807/Tremeau
Artou, 18, and her daughter Halime fled their island to seek refuge in Tagal.

“We don’t want to be a burden for the people who host us. They already gave us this house to stay. We have a roof over our heads and that’s what matters.” 
© UNICEF/Tremeau
“Look how many mouths we have to feed. It’s not easy with so many children around but one day, it can be our turn. We can also be chased from our home. That’s why we have to share.” Fatime, 28, from Tagal cooks lunch for every child staying with her.
© UNICEF/UN028798/Tremeau
These Tagal locals and displaced youth live together in the same house.

“We don’t have much free time to hang out. We go to school, we fish, we farm and we look for some work to get money. But we always stay together.” 
© UNICEF/UN028841/Tremeau
For the Tagal community, fishing boats are a critical source of food and livelihood. For these children, they're also a chance for some fun by the water.
© UNICEF/UN028777/Tremeau
Barkai, wearing black, and Mahamat, in blue, fled their island to settle in Tagal.

“Now, we and the people of Tagal are fishing everyday. We are many and sometimes, there is not enough fish. Go back? We can’t go back, they could come back anytime and burn our village again.”
© UNICEF/UN028776/Tremeau
“We are better fishermen but they are better farmers. We complement each other and we share. That’s how we manage to stay together and leave in peace,” says Mahamat.
© UNICEF/UN028801/Tremeau
Koukou, dressed in pink, is a Tagal local. She's made friends with displaced children including Amina, in blue.

"Amina and I met at the water point. That’s how we became friends. Now, we play games and go to school together. She also gave a me a beautiful dress as a gift."
© UNICEF/UN028843/Tremeau

Help children where they need you most


By opening up their homes to refugees, communities in Lake Chad show incredible generosity. Here in Australia, there's one powerful thing you can do to for children: chipping in to UNICEF's Refugee Children's Crisis appeal.

We're delivering emergency aid in conflict zones and refugee camps across the world but we’ve never been needed by so many children globally. Our teams are stretched to the limit and need your help. $113 could buy an emergency relief kit that gives a family the therapeutic food, water purification tablets, hygiene supplies and first aid essentials they need in a crisis.

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